Hockey Night In Canada Stanley Cup Playoffs 2011

Canucks' Rome apologetic, but has no regrets

Categories: Boston Bruins, Stanley Cup Final, VAN vs. BOS, Vancouver Canucks

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Vancouver Canucks defenceman Aaron Rome (29) is escorted off the ice by linesman Pierre Racicot (65) as medical personnel tend to Boston Bruins right wing Nathan Horton (18) in the first period during Game 3 on June 6 in Boston. (Winslow Townson/Associated Press) Vancouver Canucks defenceman Aaron Rome (29) is escorted off the ice by linesman Pierre Racicot (65) as medical personnel tend to Boston Bruins right wing Nathan Horton (18) in the first period during Game 3 on June 6 in Boston. (Winslow Townson/Associated Press)

By Tim Wharnsby, CBC Sports

BOSTON -- Suspended Vancouver Canucks defenceman Aaron Rome stated that he doesn't regret his decision to nail Nathan Horton, but he was repentant that Boston Bruins forward suffered a concussion.

Speaking for the first time since his late shoulder-to-head hit on Horton last Wednesday that resulted in a harsh four-game suspension - the longest in Stanley Cup Final history -  Rome also questioned the length of his suspension that will keep him out of the series.

"If I could go back, I'd wish he didn't get hurt, but I don't think it would change my decision on the play," said Rome, who caught Horton looking left, following the pass he had just delivered at the Canucks blue-line.

"There has to be some accountability on the part of the player skating up the middle of the ice maybe with his head down, not looking. If it's half a second earlier or quarter of a second earlier, maybe I'm not in this situation.

"But the game happens fast and I've got to play on the edge. I guess that time it was a little bit over the edge."

Of course, Rome was on the receiving end of a questionable hit from San Jose Sharks fourth-liner Jamie McGinn in the Western Conference final that resulted in no suspension. The Canucks defenceman missed the final two games with a concussion.

"That was the type of hit where a guy is vulnerable and I saw him coming, but there's nothing you can do," Rome said. "Mine, they say it was late and it's arbitrary.

"What is late? That's a decision they made and respect, but I definitely don't agree with it."

Rome received a five-minute penalty for interference and a game misconduct for the late hit. He has since tried to text Horton with an apology, but he has yet to receive a response.
What has made this difficult to deal with for Rome has been not only being kept out of the final, but that Bruins captain Zdeno Chara was let off the hook without any further discipline after his five-minute interference penalty and game misconduct against Montreal Canadiens forward Max Pacioretty on Mar. 8.

"You just have to look back to late in the season, I'm not going to name names, but there was the same incident with an interference penalty and there was a severe injury out of it and there was no suspension at all," Rome said. "It's an emotional time.

"He's not going to be able to play in the series, either. I understand being on that side of hits where you're [upset] about it and he wants to be out there like anybody else. I understand that."

The hated Canucks

Vancouver defenceman Kevin Bieksa dismissed the notion among reporters and some players around the league that the Canucks are the most disliked team in the NHL.

"We don't feel like villains," he said. "It feels like we have all of Canada cheering for us.

"That's an entire country, so how can you be a villain when a whole country is cheering for you?"

Kesler doesn't skate

There were two noticeable absences from the Canucks practice on Sunday. Dependable defenceman Dan Hamhuis still has not skated since he suffered his undisclosed injury in the series opener, and second-line centre Ryan Kesler did not participate in the practice.

There has been speculation that Kesler has been playing hurt, since he missed several shifts after he suffered a groin injury in the West final finale against the Sharks.

"He's fine, just gave him a day off. That's all," Canucks coach Alain Vigneault claimed.

From draft day to Cup day?

Henrik and Daniel Sedin were selected in the 1999 NHL entry draft, held at the TD Garden. Now 12 years later, they may celebrate a Stanley Cup championship inside the same building with a win on Monday evening.

"From draft day, I think always we were excited that Vancouver picked us both for the same team," Daniel said. "That was a big surprise for us.

"We didn't expect that. Over these ten years, we know what a tough league this is.

"We've been through up's and down's and we learn a lot. I think we grow as people and as hockey players and that's the most important thing."

On the road again

The Boston Globe newspaper computed that this final is the longest distance between two cities at 4,028 kilometres. Not surprisingly, the other two Canuck trips to the final rank among the top-four.

1993 -- Montreal/Los Angeles (3,974 km)

1982 -- Vancouver/N.Y. Islanders (3,938 km)

1994 -- Vancouver/N.Y. Rangers (3,908 km)

The total distance travelled in the regular season by the Bruins and Canucks also was tabulated. The Canucks road trips have equalled 121,875 km in distance to Boston's 94,679.

The Best

There was some sad news in the sports media world, when word filtered down to Boston on Sunday that 44-year-old Reuters photographer Shaun Best passed away as the result of a heart attack. He was shooting the F1 race in Montreal and was to make the drive to Boston to cover Game 6 with his Reuters colleague, sportswriter Steve Keating.

Three months ago, I remember seeing his photo on a website of a motionless Pacioretty on the ice after his run-in with Chara and then seeing that it was Shaun's picture. He took another award winner that night.

I've had the pleasure of spending plenty of time with Shaun at Canadiens games as well as other events in Montreal, the Stanley Cup playoffs and several world junior hockey championships. He was a terrific and caring individual, wonderful travelling and dinner companion. He was much too young to leave this world and will be missed.