By Joe Haggerty
CSNNE.com Bruins Insider Follow @hackswithhaggs
BOSTON -- Johnny Boychuk is as good as they come, and as honest to boot.
The hard-hitting Bruins defenseman threw a body check at Mason Raymond in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Finals that fractured bones in the Vancouver forwards vertebrae and left one of Vancouvers key defensive forwards in a body cast as the Finals concluded with Game 7 in Vancouver.
The hit correctly wasnt penalized by game referees or eyed by the NHL disciplinarians, and it instead spoke to the violent contact sport nature of hockey and the damage done when big bodies collide in an encased rink. Giant human beings moving at rapid rates of speed on an icy surface are going to collide, and there will be collateral damage when thrown into the highest competitive situations.
Raymond doesnt have a timetable on returning to hockey, but he did tell Vancouver reporters on Thursday that he received a text message from Boychuk at the end of July. Boychuk admitted he was thinking about Raymond all summer and wanted to make sure he expressed his sorrow that the Vancouver forward had been injured so badly on the play.
Just as much as Boychuk celebrated his Cup victory with the Bruins or planned for his wedding day over the summer, he hoped that Raymond was progressing well in his recovery.
Nathan Horton expressed some discontentment when Aaron Rome similarly sent a conciliatory text message to him after Romes head shot knocked Horton out of the Finals and indicated Rome might have done more if he were truly sorry for a hit that warranted a four-game suspension.
But Boychuk explained that he purposefully waited until July to send the text to Raymond after retrieving the Canucks phone number during the Finals in Vancouver and was glad to hear that the Canucks forward had received the message. Raymond never responded to Boychuks text, but it was pretty clear the Bs defenseman had some heartfelt emotions behind the phone message.
I didnt get a response, but I just wanted to make sure I sent him a message that I didnt mean to hurt him and I hope that he gets better, said Boychuk. You never want to see anybody get hurt like that at all. Its one thing if its a broken finger or a minor injury like that.
But to see a guy break his back, even in the Stanley Cup Finals, I would never, ever want to see that. It does mean a lot to me. Because if somebody did that to me it would crush me. You never want to do that to somebody. It was unintentional and I just wanted to send him a message saying sorry, I hope he gets better and I didnt mean to. I was thinking about him more or less all summer, but I wanted to make sure it was the right time.
Boychuk is preparing for his third season in Boston, but hes seen plenty of things go down during his five years playing in the Western Hockey League and six more seasons at the AHL level. He knows the unspoken code within the game of hockey and respects the safety of his fellow players.
Boychuk knows the right thing to do, and did just that when he sent out an unreturned text message to Raymond at the end of July.