BOSTON -- @font-face font-family: "Times New Roman";p.MsoNormal, li.MsoNormal, div.MsoNormal margin: 0in 0in 0.0001pt; font-size: 12pt; font-family: "Times New Roman"; a:link, span.MsoHyperlink color: blue; text-decoration: underline; a:visited, span.MsoHyperlinkFollowed color: purple; text-decoration: underline; table.MsoNormalTable font-size: 10pt; font-family: "Times New Roman"; div.Section1 page: Section1; The Vancouver Canucks admitted after Game 3 that AaronRomes open-ice hit on Nathan Horton was late.
A day later, after receiving word that Rome would besuspended for the rest of the Stanley Cup Final, Canucks players and coachAlain Vigneault had a slight change of tone, and openly disagreed with theleagues decision.
I think, as a group we dont agree with the suspension, andwell leave it at that, said Canucks forward Manny Malhotra on Tuesday.
The Sedin twins agreed.
Horton passes the puck, Rome steps up, its not like itsa blindside, said Henrik Sedin. I think Horton didnt even know that Rome wasthere. I thought it was a good hit.
We totally disagree with the suspension, said Daniel Sedin. We support Rome. Hes ahard-working guy. He has no intention to hurt anyone out there.
Rome was killed in San Jose, and nothing happened. Now hegets four games. I dont know.
Rome missed the last two games of the Western ConferenceFinals with a concussion after being dealt a vicious hit from behind in his owncorner by San Joses Jamie McGinn.
McGinn received a five-minute boarding major, but after aphone hearing with the NHL, no suspension was given out.
Vigneault used the McGinn hit as one of the reasons he disagreed withthe leagues decision to suspend Rome after Rome's hit on Horton knocked the Bruins forward out of the game, andnow, out of the series. But a day later, he also doesnt think Romes hit wasall that bad.
I do think at the end of the day, also, it was a north-southplay, said Vigneault on Tuesday. The puck went from Zdeno Chara to Horton, and Horton made a pass to Milan Lucic.He was looking at his pass, and I think Aaron was a tad late. Aaron is not adirty player, never has been, never will be. It was a hit that unfortunatelyturned bad.
In my opinion, its not the right call. Weve hadinstances, just in the San Jose series, where Aaron was the player. Hes facingthe board and he gets hit, and theres no suspension there. Ben Eagers hit on DanSedin, in my mind, where, again, Sedin's facing the board, was worse than Rome's. Dan Sedin doesnt get hurt,but the play could have had serious consequences.
In my opinion, those were two suspendable offenses thatwerent penalized, added Vigneault. And last night, it was very unfortunate that thathit turned bad there. Were real disappointed that the player got hurt, but itwas a north-south play. It was a little bit late. But anybody thats playedthis game, knows that you have to make a decision in a fraction of a second.Hes engaged in the hit. I dont know how the league could come up with thatdecision.
Rome wasnt available to the media on Tuesday, but he didrelease a statement:
I want to express my concern for Nathans well being, andwish him a quick and full recovery. I try to play this gamehonestly and with integrity. As someone who has experienced this type ofinjury, I am well aware of its serious nature, and have no desire for anotherplayer to experience it. I will not take away my teammates focus on the taskat hand, and intend to speak at an appropriate time in the future.
The Canucks, however, did speak on behalf of their suspendeddefenseman.
Its devastating, said Malhotra. To be so close, and tobe playing in your dream, and now to have it taken away, it obviously hurts alot.
I dont know if he could talk to you right now, saidVigneault. Hes very emotional. Hes very disappointed. Hes been taken out ofthe Stanley Cup playoffs, and a couple of weeks ago, he was almost taken out ofthe Stanley Cup playoffs by another player in a situation that, in my opinion,was far worse.
I dont think right now he could tell you anything, becausehes way too emotional about what happened.
Danny Picard is on twitter at http:twitter.comDannyPicard