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No More Horton or Rome in the Cup Final

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New Puck Daddy: After a shellacking, it’s a lot easier to “flush it” than it is after losing a tight one

*****

So this kind of sucks: we’re in the middle of a great series between Vancouver and Boston.  After two skin-of-their-teeth wins by Vancouver, Boston came out and made a statement – they dropped an 8-1 beatdown on Chinatown (that’s Vancouver, for those of you not up on your population demographics/casual racism), with Luongo staying in the net for every goal.

But the game has been overshadowed by the Aaron Rome hit that left Nathan Horton with a severe concussion, knocking him out for the rest of playoffs.  Rome is gone too, as I’m sure you’ve heard – he got suspeded for four games – but that’s of little consequence to the Canucks who’ve already used and won with nine different defencemen in playoffs thus far.

And now, writing about that is more important than writing about the games played so far (not that there’s anything to analyze from last night), because it affects the series. My little reminder for everyone (that I tweeted) is this: between the bite and the fingers being offered up for biting and this hit, don’t lose track that of the hockey. Hits happen (legal or otherwise) in playoffs, people get hurt, and teams have to perservere. Part of winning the Cup is survival.  All the best to Nathan Horton and everything, but it’s certainly doesn’t need to be every storyline.

So here we go (don’t watch, Mom):

The hit, as I saw it, was flawlessly executed at the perfect spot on the ice…..but just way, way too late, which makes it interference and dangerous. Rome stopped backing up and planted the second Horton moved the puck, but the guy still had time to get into a third stride before getting pounded. Part of the reason I think it was so late was that Rome was backing up (as opposed to charging forward) and planting, so he has to wait for Horton to get to him. Whatever the reason, it was very late.

.....and that'll do it for your participation in the final, thanks.

From experience, I (and my broken nose) can tell you that no hit is more of a shock to the system than the one where you’re gathering speed (he was crossing over) and unaware it’s coming.  Happened to me in Bridgeport, and I was fortunate to avoid the concussion; Horton wasn’t so lucky.  Had it been Rome hitting me, I probably would’ve been in the same situation, which is part of the reason I have genuine sympathy for the guy today.

That said, I think the suspension might be a little long for a late north/south hit (that’s a lotta strides to not look up once), but given the severity of the injury and what a big part of Boston’s team Horton is, I guess it sort of makes sense. If we want more serious suspensions (and we do), it has to start somewhere. You would just think they’d wait for the start of the new season to begin doing that.

{Part of it feels like a PR-safe move for the league – if Rome got back into a game while Horton is still suffering, it doesn’t look good on their ruling.}

*****

As for the actual game last night…..there’s almost no point in evaluating that one. If there were a checklist with “Canucks need to improve their…” on it, I’d be clicking “select all.” Feel free to weigh in on the Horton hit for today, but after that, I’m going to try to stick to the action as much as possible.

Comments

25 Responses to “No More Horton or Rome in the Cup Final”
  1. abnmoose says:

    How bout the hit by Thomas? Or the class shown by Malhotra when he accidently flipped the puck into the Boston bench by apologizing and making sure they knew it was an accident? Yes, the hit was nasty, the suspension issued, so now, hockey!
    how will Luongo respond to the mental aspect of being a sieve? Has Boston discovered the weak spot (over glove of Luongo)? Can Boston carry this momentum?
    Lots of other issues, best wishes to Horton (hope a quick recovery).

  2. marc says:

    typo: suspeded.

  3. MattyJ says:

    I think the story that was lost in all this was the scratching of Seguin and return of Thornton. What a brilliant move that turned out to be. The grit and nastyness missing from Boston’s game was in full force in game 3. Reminds me of Darren McCarty. You need guys like that to win cups. It’ll be interesting to see if Vancouver has any lineup changes for game 4.

  4. Steve C. says:

    The Bruins overpower the Canucks and humiliate them in all phases of the game and don’t get to re-live it again today Bourne Style. Too bad for me.
    BTW…I agree with MattyJ…the Bruins game without the physical play = a loss.

  5. Ross says:

    Why isn’t Claude Julien blaming Horton for not seeing the hit coming? He blamed the Dallas Stars’ Ray Sawada back in February for not seeing Paille’s cheapshot coming, saying if he “hasn’t learned [to keep his head up] by now, he shouldn’t be in the pros.” Does the same hold true for Horton, Claude? And for Paul Kariya and Eric Lindros?

  6. @skennedy39 says:

    One thing that had to make the NHL breathe a sigh of relief was the Rome was the hitter. I wonder if this would have been different had Salo or Bieksa made the play and a bigger part of the Canuck’s defense would have been sat down.

    One interesting thing – let’s say by some “miracle” Horton manages to play Game 7 (should it be necessary). Should the suspension be reduced accordingly? The problem if you factor the result into a play is that the result isn’t always what it appears to be.

  7. Pep says:

    I agree on the hit. I pvr’d it and went back and watched it in slow motion and real speed a few times. I thought the hit was clean except waaaay late. Horton takes a peek he can avoid the worst of it but he was busy doing his Eric Lindros impersenation of his pass. I didn’t think it was a hit to the head. It looked more high chest to me. Rome left his feet but after contact which you will get with a collision of that kind of force. It looked to me like Horton’s head hitting the ice was what did the vast majority of the damage. I don’t have a dog in this fight as I was/am just hoping for a long hard fought good series.

    I thought he might get a game or two based on other suspensions this year. I agree 4+ games would be a good number for next year when they are supposedly toughening up the length of being booted but starting it now in the final when they have set precedence this year already for similiar hits?

    Pep

    PS: JB, it is Hongcouver.

  8. vx inTN says:

    abnmoose, I LOVED that hit by Thomas! And the way Sedin got up whining! They dont play like that in Sweden, do they son?

  9. vx inTN says:

    oh, and why in the hell wasnt Luongo pulled when the game got out of hand? At the very least, he could have gotten injured playing a nothing period and That would have been hte major storyline and perhaps sunk the Nucks.

  10. Neil C. says:

    You’ve summed up my thoughts exactly on that hit, Bourne. Super late. Definitely suspendable. 4 games seems excessive and I can only assume that it’s because they wanted him out for the rest of the series because Horton was out too. It’s a suspension that is above and beyond previous precedents and it’s awfully strange that the league has decided to make a statement on this in game 3 of the Stanley Cup Finals. The resulting injury has always been taken into account in the past and hits like this in the playoffs still weren’t punished this severely (like the Pronger Special getting a one game suspension TWICE in the same playoffs), so I can only wonder why the league decided to throw the book at the offender in this particular case.

    Suspension gripes aside though… the whole thing sucks man, I feel for Bruins fans, it doesn’t seem fair to have your top line winger get railed with an illegal hit like that at such a critical time for the team/fans. I can only imagine how I’d feel if the roles were reversed. I feel for Horton, he’s a great player and he’s been a huge part of that team. I can’t imagine what it must feel like to have to sit in a dark room while your team tries to finish the fight. And I feel for Rome too, even though he is the only person out there responsible for his decisions. I don’t think he realized he was as late as he was and he’s dealt with his own concussion symptoms during the playoffs, now he sits in the press box and chews on his suspension and feeling like a dick. It’s a shitty situation for everyone (and obviously far worse for Horton than anyone else). Plus we have to listen to the Bruins and Canucks mouth-breathers shouting at each other about which team is playing cheaper, dirtier hockey. Sigh.

  11. MWL says:

    Good take…like you said, great series (playoffs) that hopefully wont be overshadowed by the Nucks…

    The problem I have with the situation is the lack of consistency the nhl has with discipline. It seems like every suspension is different, with no real rhyme or reason. If they are serious about eliminating these types of hits they need to back up their words with actions. It made me sick seeing Horton laying there, thinking that if they were serious with their suspensions, then maybe Rome would have thought twice (he had the time to do so) about crushing him. It just sucks seeing one of the best players in the series out…

    On the length of the suspension, how do you think that’s long. Yes, i know you should suspend for the action not the result. But Horton could be out for a year for all we know, 4 games for putting someone out indefinitely seems pretty easy for me. If they are serious about eliminating these hits, start with some 10 gamers. it would really hurt the pocketbook, and also the team. It’s the only way they’ll get results.

  12. vx inTN says:

    Apologies in advance as this doesnt really fit here, but I just read your Hockey News article saying that Chara is one of the top 5 defensemen of ALL TIME.
    PU-LEASE or more realistically: WTGDF?!?!?!?!?!?!?????
    Orr, Borque, Coffey, Lidstrom. Yeah, thats 4 but thats the ones that I’ve seen play and I’ve heard tales and read stories about a bunch of pre-expansion defensemen that qualify them for that list.
    I’m gonna need to see AT LEAST another 5-10 dominant years before I allow Chara anywhere near a list with those guys on it.

  13. Andrew says:

    It’s also charging. Rome leaves his feet. It’s hard to tell but it also looks like the point of contact is his head. I’ll even give him the benefit of the doubt that he was “aiming” for his chest and Horton had his head down, thus his head was hit.

    However, it’s late and it’s charging. Four games feels right. It’s too bad the “trade-off” isn’t better for Boston. Top-notch Forward and a brutal 6th Dman.

    Haven’t read the hockey news article, but I’d agree with vx that Chara isn’t top 5 all-time. Maybe top 10.

  14. jtbourne says:

    ….Charging. Hmm.

  15. Me says:

    Q: “seems long”
    Q: “inconsistency”
    Q: “why make the statement now”

    A: Different dude making the call equals unexpected result… not that Colin Campbell was an easy read…

  16. Char says:

    Enough with blaming the victim. You expect to get hit when you have the puck, or just after a pass. You don’t expect it on the THIRD stride after passing. And of course Horton was following his pass; he, Krejci and Lucic work the give-and-go all the time. He’s looking for the return pass.

    As for the suspension, it had to happen, not just because of the illegality of the hit, but for the safety of everyone in this series. If there’s no suspension, it’s carte blanche, and everyone’s a target. I doubt Vigneault is protesting that a similar hit isn’t dirty if it’s one of the Sedins on a stretcher.

  17. Andrew says:

    Bourne, do you disagree that it’s charging? I’ve had a couple people tell me I’m wrong on that, but to me Rome makes contact with Horton and then his skates land back on the ice.

    Char is bang on that the suspension is necessary to avoid mayhem in game 4.

  18. jtbourne says:

    Oh okay, so you think he jumped – I’m not sure what they call that, but I’ve never heard it referred to it as charging before (which I thought solely implied taking too many strides – I think three – before throwing a bodycheck). I don’t think he jumped though – was moving upwards as most open-ice hits are, had shoulder pads above Horton’s which probably pushes him up a little. Lotta force there.

  19. AiH says:

    I’d like to comment on the debate but I don’t have cable so I missed the game.

  20. Andrew says:

    Am I crazy? I thought leaving your feet to deliver a hit was charging (along with the stride thing)…. looking it up now…

    From nhl.com:

    42.1 Charging – A minor or major penalty shall be imposed on a player who skates or jumps into, or charges an opponent in any manner.

    Charging shall mean the actions of a player who, as a result of distance traveled, shall violently check an opponent in any manner. A “charge” may be the result of a check into the boards, into the goal frame or in open ice.

    Anyway, I agree that he may or may not have left his feet. Might have just been a result of the impact. However, it’s funny that everyone was screaming for stronger punishments on these sorts of hits. And now that it’s been dished out to a player on a team that virtually everyone in Canada is cheering for, those same people are saying the NHL has gone too far.

    The league has historically been soft on punishing players, especially in the playoffs. I think this is a good message to send, provided they have some consistency going forward.

  21. Neil C says:

    It’s a fine line imho, Andrew. Leaving your feet, as I understand it, is charging. However, if you look at, say, 50 clean hits, you’ll find that in almost every single one, the playing throwing the hit has both feet leave the ice. The question is, did he purposely jump off the ice before making contact or did he leave the ice as a result of contact? In most cases, I find this to be a difficult question to answer because it’s often a bit of both. So then you have to consider ‘how much’ he lept. In my opinion, Rome didn’t leap at Horton (the league agreed, Murphy said the suspension was for a late hit and the resulting injury). That being said, in almost every hockey game I’ve ever watched I’ve seen guys like Raffe Torres/Matt Cooke/Cal Clutterbuck leave their feet on hits and not take penalties, so who knows. Charging is a weird call, I hate it when refs call it because you know it will happen 5 more times that game and they aren’t gonna do shit about it.

  22. jtbourne says:

    More importantly, “jumping” needs to be separate from charging. Takes a serious leap to justify calling one the other.

  23. Andrew says:

    Neil C. Yes, it’s absolutely a fine-line between jumping into a player and leaving your feet as a result of the contact. Rome’s hit is certainly right on that line. However, I just watched it for the first time on my TV (watched it on my computer at work today) and it looks worse. It’s a pretty clear head shot with the shoulder hitting Horton’s head. But yes, charging is the NHL’s version of “holding” in the NFL. It happens all the time and only gets called occasionally.

    Bourne, are you saying charging shouldn’t including the “jumping” language? Should jumping be a separate penalty? Not a penalty at all?

    I think that the “jumping” is a penalty because it generally results in a seriously violent hit, unless the hitter is much smaller than the player receiving the hit. If you keep your feet on the ice, you aren’t throwing your entire weight into the player. If you jump into him, there is a lot more force hitting that player, which can make it dangerous and violent.

  24. jtbourne says:

    I think it’s nothing close to a “clear” head shot. He’s trying to rock a guy in open ice, and that’s tougher than it sounds – choosing and hitting a spot is just so, so unlikely. I’m saying they should be separate calls, because of the language. Nothing about a “jump” relates to the word “charge.” Vertical vs. horizontal.

  25. Andrew says:

    To me, it looks like his shoulder makes direct contact with Horton’s head. Intentional or not, it looks like a headshot. Whether intent should be part of the rule is up for debate I guess. My opinion is that penalizing only players with intent is more difficult and won’t really make the game any safer. Anyway, this already feels like a dead issue and we’ll never reach an agreement.

    I do like the notion of giving a guy 2 or 4 or 5 minutes for “jumping”. It would just sound funny. You are right though, charging a player with extra strides and jumping into a player are two totally different things.

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