After missing an opportunity to send a message to both teams after Game 1 -- Alex Burrows biting the digit of Patrice Bergeron -- the NHL decided to act appropriately by suspending Canucks' defenseman Aaron Rome for the remainder of the 2011 Stanley Cup Finals.
In the opening five minutes of last night's 8-1 Boston victory at the TD Garden, Rome delivered a late head-shot the Bruins' winger Nathan Horton. The 26-year-old Horton was knocked unconcious in the middle of the ice -- motionless, stiff -- before being carted off on a stretcher to Mass General Hospital.
The diagnosis for Horton, after staying overnight for observations, was quite apparent; he suffered a sever concussion and will miss at least the remainder of the Cup Finals.
Horton is the team's second-leading scorer with 17 points (8 goals) and became the hero of The Hub with his overtime heroics -- three game-winners.
Today, NHL disciplinarian Mike Murphy addressed the media on the late infraction which violated Rule 43.
"I probably viewed it like most of you did. I thought it was a late hit," he said. "I thought that the body was contacted. But I also thought that the head was hit.
"It caused a serious injury to Nathan Horton. So the key components are: the late hit, which I had it close to a second late. We have our own formula at NHL Hockey Operations for determining late hits, and it was late. We saw the seriousness of the injury with Nathan on the ice last night. That's basically what we deliberated on. We tried to compare it with some of the other ones in the past. But it stands alone. It's why we made the ruling.
"We review the medical report. I spoke with the medical people in Boston this morning. It doesn't look good for Nathan right now to come back and play in this series. The play speaks for itself."
Murphy then emphasized that magnititude of the stage that this game is now being played -- the Finals -- had no impact on the ruling.
"I think it's the right decision. It had nothing to do with the stage. It's the play. The play speaks for itself," he said. "We assess the play as I described to you. It was late and it injured a player, it injured him severely."
Rome was not available to the media for questions and answers, but he did issue the following 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 my teammates' focus on the task at hand and intend to speak at an appropriate time in future."
The impact this has to the Bruins and their chance at a Stanley Cup is devastating.
However, it's times like these that we should put the player aside and think about his actual well-being. The B's have traveled down this unfortunate road on more than one occassion. Patrice Bergeron suffered his third, yet most mild concussion at the end of the playoff series against the Flyers. He fortunately missed just the first two games of the Eastern Conference Finals against the Tampa Bay Lightning.
And most recently, we, like the Bruins, know all too well about the Marc Savard incident. The 33-year-old center is still feeling the ill-effects of a blindside hit that he sustained well over a year ago.
This four-game suspension of Rome isn't going to clear-up this ongoing issue of headshots and concussions in the NHL. And at Horton and the Bruins' expense, hopefully it's another step in the right direction.