BOSTON — Nathan Horton will miss the rest of the Stanley Cup finals with a severe concussion, and Vancouver Canucks defenseman Aaron Rome also is finished after the NHL suspended him for four games Tuesday for his blindside hit on the Boston Bruins forward during Game 3.
Horton had just passed the puck early in the first period when Rome lowered his shoulder and left his skates to flatten him, delivering what the Bruins saw as the kind of hit the league has tried to eliminate after several players sustained severe concussions.
“Two factors were considered in reaching this decision,” Mike Murphy, the league’s senior vice president of hockey operations, said in a release. “The hit by Rome was clearly beyond what is acceptable in terms of how late it was delivered after Horton had released the puck, and it caused a significant injury.”
Horton, the right wing on Boston’s top line, apparently was knocked unconscious, hitting his head on the ice Monday night and staying down for several minutes while medical personnel attended to him.
“Obviously glad to know that it’s not as bad as you always suspect,” Julien said. “For him to be out … obviously (there’s) a long road to recovery, but hopefully he gets better soon.”
“He’s feeling good, feeling a lot better,” said Lucic, who turned 23 on Tuesday. “He sent me a birthday wish, so it’s good he remembered my birthday after a concussion.”
While Horton is a key offensive player for the Bruins, the 27-year-old Rome is a depth defenseman for the Canucks, usually playing in their third pairing. He has one goal and 37 penalty minutes in the postseason.
“Obviously, it’s not even-up when you look at those players’ impact on the game, but it’s our job to deal with it,” Boston defenseman Andrew Ference said. “It’s not the same, but that’s the way those things usually work.”
Horton has eight goals and nine assists in the playoffs for Boston, which trails 2-1 heading into Game 4 on Wednesday night. He’s second in the NHL postseason with plus-11 rating, and he already became the first player in NHL history to score a game-winning goal in a Game 7 twice in the same postseason run.
Horton has been a hero in the postseason for Boston, which is in the Stanley Cup finals for the first time in 21 years. Horton scored the winning goal in overtime in Game 7 of the first round against Montreal - and again in the Eastern Conference finals, getting the only goal in Boston’s 1-0 victory over Tampa Bay late in the third period.