VANCOUVER — Vancouver general manager Mike Gillis made sure to make himself available to the media today for the first time since the Stanley Cup Final started.
He obviously had something to get off his chest about the hit by Johnny Boychuk that caused Canucks forward Mason Raymond to suffer a vertebrae compression fracture in last night’s Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final in Boston.
The league determined the play was an “awkward collision” and has not disciplined Boychuk. While the Canucks chartered home today, Raymond stayed back to be fitted for a brace.
“I haven’t had any discussion with [the league] after last night. All I can tell you is my observations of the hit,” said the Canucks GM. “I didn’t see the puck around him. I thought the Boston player used a can opener and drove him into the boards with enough force to break his back. That’s what I saw.
“I don’t have much more to say about that other than that observation.”
Gillis wouldn’t comment on the lack of discipline and only added that if the team gets Raymond back by November “we will be very happy.”
Much like Nathan Horton’s injury suffered in Game 3 has inspired the Bruins, the Canucks players are now left to hope that since Raymond can’t help them on the ice with his skills, his memory can provide then a little extra bounce.
“Obviously Mason is a popular guy on the team and we would love to have him in there,” said forward Christopher Higgins. “It’s unfortunate that he can’t play and we would love to win this one for him and for ourselves, too. It’s Game 7 of the Stanley Cup finals, so we’re going to have fun out there.”
Vancouver head coach Alain Vigneault, however, wasn’t looking for everyone to rally around Raymond.
“For us, injuries and adversity have been part of our daily routine throughout this season and we faced every one of them head on,” he said. “It’s very unfortunate for Mason not to be able to play in the seventh game, but the guys that we have available are going to jump on the opportunity.
“We worked all year long to get home ice, to play in front of these great fans, to feed off their energy and that’s what we’re getting tomorrow. I think our home record is pretty good, too.”
With Raymond out, Jeff Tambellini will probably get a chance to play again for the Canucks. When asked about the availability of defensemen Alex Edler and Andrew Alberts, who were banged up in Game 6, Vigneault said “they’ll be fine.”
Boychuk did not speak today. Bruins head coach Claude Julien offered little in the way of analysis from the Boston side.
“Right now, to be honest with you, I haven’t looked at it that closely,” he said. “I don’t really have time to really bother with that when you’ve got Game 7 coming up. We’ve talked more about what we need to do here, not analyzing the injured player of the other team.”