Canucks coach Alain Vigneault said defenseman Aaron Rome was too emotional to discuss his four-game suspension handed down today as a result of his late hit on Bruins’ forward Nathan Horton in Game 3 of the Stanley Cup final last night at TD Garden.
The coach and Rome’s teammates said the blueliner is nothing close to a headhunter and that they disagreed with the punishment meted out by NHL dean of discipline Mike Murphy.
Although Rome didn’t address the media, he did issue a statement:
“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 from my teammates’ focus on the task at hand and intend to speak at an appropriate time in the future.”
Despite the fact that Horton suffered a severe concussion and will be sidelined for the forseeable future, Vigneault said he didn’t believe the punishment fit the crime.
“Well, in my opinion, it’s not the right call,” Vigneault 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 and there’s no suspension there. 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 [punished]. Last night, [it was a] very unfortunate hit that turned bad. We’re disappointed the player got hurt. But it was a north/south play. It was a 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.”
Canucks’ captain Henrik Sedin said he feels for his teammate as well as Horton.
“As much as you don’t want to see a guy go down like Horton, this the way it is,” he said. “I know the guys we have in the room. We’re honest guys. We’re hard-working guys, we’re a tight group. Aaron has been a big part of this team. He’s an honest player.”