VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA (AP) - Canucks president Mike Gillis said Bruins defenseman Johnny Boychuk “used a can opener” in delivering a brutal hit on Mason Raymond that left the Vancouver forward in a Boston hospital with a back injury.
Raymond will miss Game 7 of the Stanley Cup finals, and likely the start of next season, after sustaining a vertebrae compression fracture from being checked into the boards 20 seconds into Game 6 on Monday night. The NHL has not disciplined Boychuk.
“All I can tell you is my observations of the hit,” Gillis said. “I didn’t see the puck around him. I thought the Boston player used a can opener and drove him with enough force into the board to break his back.”
Raymond was on the first shift of Boston’s 5-2 victory, which forced a decisive Game 7 Wednesday night in Vancouver. He lay on the ice for several minutes before being helped off and taken to the hospital on a stretcher.
Gillis wasn’t sure why Raymond wasn’t taken off the ice on a stretcher, but pointed out that he moved his feet while still on the ice. And the Canucks’ general manager refused to comment on the fact no penalty was called, and no supplementary discipline is coming from the NHL.
“I’m not the right person to ask about that,” Gillis said.
Raymond got spun around with Boychuk’s stick between his legs as they went into the corner after the puck went by them. Raymond ended up with his head down between Boychuk’s legs as he delivered Raymond backward into the boards, leaving him face down on the ice as play went on.
Mike Murphy, who is in charge of NHL discipline for the Stanley Cup finals because Colin Campbell’s son, Gregory, plays for the Bruins, confirmed in an email to The Associated Press that there would be no suspension.
“We do not feel this play requires discipline,” Murphy wrote. “It was an awkward collision that caused Raymond’s injury. Very unfortunate.”
Boston coach Claude Julien said it hadn’t looked closely at Boychuk’s hit.
“I don’t really have time to really bother with that when you’ve got Game 7 coming up,” he said after a short practice. “We’ve talked more about what we need to do here, not analyzing the injured player of the other team.”
Gillis said Vancouver might not get Raymond back until November, adding there was originally some fear the speedy winger might not be able to walk again.
“There was some very serious concern about that,” he said. “When you see the severity of that injury, the way our doctors described it to me, very, very dangerous. … It wasn’t a chipped vertebrae or cracked vertebrae. It’s broken through the belly of his vertebrae, so it’s a very serious injury. You never want to see any player on any team have an injury like that.”
Gillis said the team delayed its charter flight to Vancouver in the hopes Raymond might be able to join them, but he wasn’t stable enough and the team couldn’t wait long any longer.
“They had designed a corset for him to be able to wear to be able to get out of the hospital and travel safely,” Gillis said. “That hadn’t happened and we had to leave.”
Now the Canucks, who gave up four goals during a 4:14 span shortly after Raymond’s injury and trailed 4-0 after the first period, will be forced to rally without him.
The 25-year-old Raymond scored 15 goals this season and 25 last year, but only had two goals and eight points in 24 playoff games. He was, however, among the Canucks’ leaders with 17 shots through the first five games of the Stanley Cup finals, and his speed will be missed on both the second line and killing penalties.
“Mason is a popular guy and we would love to have him in there,” linemate Chris Higgins said. “It’s unfortunate he can’t play and we would love to win this one for him.”
Raymond joins a growing list of Vancouver players who won’t play Wednesday night.
Fellow second-line winger Mikael Samuelsson had abdominal surgery earlier in the playoffs, top defenseman Dan Hamhuis hasn’t played since an undisclosed injury in the first game of the finals, and his replacement, Aaron Rome, was suspended for a late hit that also knocked top-line Bruins forward Nathan Horton out of the series in Game 3.
Second-line center Ryan Kesler and top-scoring defenseman Christian Ehrhoff are also playing with suspected injuries from the Western Conference finals.
Defensemen Alex Edler and Andrew Alberts missed the final five minutes of Game 6, but head coach Alain Vigneault said both would be fine for Game 7.
Vigneault would not say who would replace Raymond, but Jeff Tambellini is the logical choice. The son of Edmonton general manager Steve Tambellini is fast but hasn’t scored since Dec. 28, and is pointless and minus-3 while averaging less than six minutes of ice time during his five playoff appearances.
“Injuries and adversity have been part of our daily routine throughout this season and we faced every one of them head on,” Vigneault said.
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