Without actually saying it, Canucks coach Alain Vigneault tried to imply a message to the NHL that Aaron Rome's vicious hit on Nathan Horton was not worthy of a suspension. Not only that, but Vigneault actually called out Horton for admiring his pass before the hit.
Rome blindsided Horton early in the first period. Horton was taken off the ice in a stretcher and transported to Massachusetts General Hospital with a head injury. Vigneault knew the hit was late, but he tried to lobby for Rome, who will have a hearing with the NHL at 11 a.m. Tuesday.
"We'll let the league deal with that, but that hit was a head-on hit, [Horton] looking at his pass, [and the hit] was a little bit late," Vigneault said. "I don't think that's the hit that the league is trying to take out of the game. This is a physical game. You've got big guys, a fraction of a second to decide what is happening out there. It's very unfortunate. You never want to see that, but this is a physical game."
Rome lined up Horton as he entered the Vancouver zone without the puck. Rome planted his skates, launched himself at Horton and elevated his shoulder into Horton's head. Horton also hit his head on the ice when he fell, and he lay nearly motionless for several minutes.
Rome received a five-minute major and a game misconduct.
"Obviously, you never want to see any player leave in that situation," Vigneault said. "I think our whole team, myself and the whole organization hopes that he's all right. The hit obviously seemed to be a little bit late, so he got five minutes for interference, and he was kicked out of the game."
Canucks forward Manny Malhotra also defended his teammate, even saying such hits happen every day in the NHL.
"I thought it was a very clean hit," Malhotra said, according to WEEI. "Just the timing was maybe a fraction off, but all in all, you see those hits on a daily basis throughout the league."
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