BOSTON — Aaron Rome decided not to speak in person today to answer for his actions of last night in Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final.
Rome’s hit to the head of Bruins forward Nathan Horton sent the winger to the hospital with a severe concussion in the first period of Boston’s 8-1 win.
Instead the Vancouver defenseman issued a statement via the league:
“I want to express my concern for Nathan’s well being and wish him a quick and full recovery. I try to play this game honestly and with integrity. As someone who has experienced this type of injury I am well aware of its serious nature and have no desire for another player to experience it. I will not take away my teammates’ focus on the task at hand and intend to speak at an appropriate time in future.”
While you can question the sincerity of a statement issued by a player like some accused politician, at least Rome didn’t stoop to the levels of his teammates and coach who were all in denial about the nature of the hit that earned Rome a four-game suspension today from the NHL.
“I do think at the end of the day also it was a north/south play, [Zdeno] Chara to Horton, he made a pass to [Milan] Lucic,” said coach Alain Vigneault, whose team leads the series heading into tomorrow night’s Game 4.. “He was looking at his pass. Aaron was a tad late.
“Aaron isn’t a dirty player, never has been, never will be. It was a hit that unfortunately turned bad.”
Captain Henrik Sedin went out of his way to defend his teammate during media availability at Boston University on the off day between games.
“[Horton] passes the puck, Rome steps up. It’s not like it’s a blindside,” said the twin. “I think the guy didn’t even know that he was there. I thought it was a good hit.”
As for the suspension, Vigneault sounded baffled.
“Well, in my opinion, it’s not the right call,” he said. “We’ve had instances just in the San Jose series, and Aaron was the player, where he’s facing the board and he gets hit, there’s no suspension there. [Ben] Eager’s hit on Danny [Sedin] in my mind, where again he’s facing the board, doesn’t get hurt, could have serious consequences. In my opinion, those were two suspendable offenses that weren’t.
“Last night, it was very unfortunate that hit turned bad. We’re real disappointed the player got hurt. But it was a north/south play. It was a little bit late. But anybody that’s played this game knows that you have to make a decision in a fraction of a second. He’s engaged in the hit. I don’t know how the league could come up with that decision really.”
Has anyone mentioned that the hit was to the head in addition to being late? Didn’t think so.