Itâ€™s about as close to a â€œget out of jail freeâ€ card as the NHL could get. When the Canucksâ€™ Aaron Rome decided to step up and clobber Nathan Horton last night, everyone immediately knew the hit was questionable. It’s become engrained in our minds (a good thing, perhaps?).
Upon further review, and some slo-mo replays, it looked like Romeâ€™s hit was a bit late. Though Iâ€™ve seen much, much worse over the past few years.
The result was scary, but I wouldnâ€™t call Rome a vicious player by any means.
Either way, the leagueâ€™s disciplinarian Mike Murphy is faced with one of the easiest suspensions heâ€™ll ever hand out. Not because the hit was easy to categorize as dirty, it wasnâ€™t. In realtime itâ€™s actually a Â pretty tough call to make.
The reason why itâ€™s so easy to suspend over a hit like that, is because Aaron Rome delivered it.
Over these playoffs, Nathan Horton has accumulated a solid 17 points. Thatâ€™s more NHL points than Rome has gathered in his entire career, regular season included. So to suspend him for 1, 2, or 3 games is really nothing. The Canucks wonâ€™t be in rough shape due to Romeâ€™s absence, and it shouldnâ€™t break the series for them.
Horton, on the other hand, is one of the key offensive producers for the Bruins. And with him gone, their top line takes a major hit. This is why Romeâ€™s own coach and teammates were quick to classify his hit as late – in other words â€œillegal.â€
Personally, where question marks arise, is whether Kevin Bieksa or Christian Ehrhoff would receive the same treatment from their own organization, and furthermore, the NHL.
This isnâ€™t to say Aaron Rome was thrown under the bus or anything. I donâ€™t believe thatâ€™s the case at all.
I just believe it was an easy call to make for Vigneault and the Canucks considering Romeâ€™s limited role on the club â€“ many of us would probably act the same. And I donâ€™t want this to seem like a rip on Aaron Rome for being a terrible hockey player or anything â€“ he isnâ€™t.
Anyone who can make it into the lineup for a Stanley Cup contender has my respect. Itâ€™s just, he simply isnâ€™t a major factor in the teamsâ€™ success compared to what Horton brings to the table for the Bruins.
As for the NHL, they get to hit the EASY button on this one. Suspend Aaron Rome, and â€œmake an exampleâ€, the Canucks wonâ€™t really complain â€“ replacing him in the lineup should be easy â€“ and the world will keep spinning.
Had Ehrhoff or Bieksa delivered the hit, things would be quite different. And it doesnâ€™t necessarilyÂ have to be specific to team or position.
Had Kesler, Chara, Lucic, or anyone of a high skill level delivered a hit like that, Murphy’s job becomes a bit tougher. Now youâ€™re talking about real punishment, and potentially altering the outcome of the series.
Vigneault (or whoever) isnâ€™t easily throwing the word â€œlateâ€ around if one of his top pairing defenceman delivers a hit like that. How could he?
The only way justice (if thatâ€™s what youâ€™re after) would actually be served in this situation, is if a top-line player from the Canucks was forced out of the lineup. And since thatâ€™s impossible, the NHL gets the privilege of making an easy decision this time around.
Iâ€™m still a little in the air about the hit itself. I do believe it was dirty, but slow motion makes â€œlateâ€ look really late. So as much as I think (and know) Rome should be suspended, Iâ€™m not ready to throw the Matt Cooke label on him or anything. And to be frank, Iâ€™ve noticed a lot of people voicing their opinion that they believe the hit was clean.
While Iâ€™m not sure Iâ€™m in the same boat, I can sympathize with folks who are afraid to see hitting taken away from the game â€“ which is likely where weâ€™re headed in the longterm.
The hit definitely stirred the Bruins and woke them up – anyone who denies that clearly hasnâ€™t played a competitive game of hockey before. And as for the gameplan the Bâ€™s employed afterward, it was perfect. They hit everyone and everything in what turned out to be one of my favorite games of the playoffs so far, despite the 8-1 score.
Itâ€™s unfortunate that someone was injured along the way. But (and Ryan Kesler can back me up on this) sometimes, thatâ€™s just hockey.