Mason Raymond, centre, will be out at least until November with a fractured vertebra in his back. (Harry How/Getty Images)
VANCOUVER -- Mike Gillis refused to take the direct approach when he was asked whether Boston Bruins defenceman Johnny Boychuck deserved a suspension for his hit that broke the back of Vancouver Canucks forward Mason Raymond on Monday.
The Canucks general manager had the hockey world's attention. But he wasn't about to rant and rave less than 24 hours before his club meets the Boston Bruins in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final on Wednesday (CBC, CBCSports.ca, 4:30 p.m. PT/7:30 p.m. ET).
There was no repeat performance of his outburst in the first round, when he cited the discrepancy in the number of power plays given to the Chicago Blackhawks before Game 7 of that series.
But it was apparent that Gillis was unhappy that Boychuk was exonerated of any supplementary discipline for his actions.
"I'm not in charge of supplementary discipline, so I'm not the right person to ask about that," Gillis said. "I think when you see the severity of that injury, the way our doctors described it to me, very, very dangerous. I'm always disappointed when you see any player get injured.
"I was asking [assistant GM] Lawrence [Gilman] when the last time we saw a broken back occur in the NHL. I can't recall it other than an incident here a number of years ago [the infamous Moore-Bertuzzi incident]. 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."
Raymond out until at least November
Raymond was not well enough to travel on Tuesday and it may be a day or so before he is cleared to return home. The Canucks were hopeful that he will not require surgery and that the injury will heal on its own. But Gillis did add that the 25-year-old second-line left wing will be lucky to return to action by November.
Boychuk was not given a penalty on the play and appeared to give Raymond an extra shove before the latter slammed into the boards tailbone first.
"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 into the boards with enough force to break his back. That's what I saw.
"I don't have much more to say about that other than that observation."
Gillis also stated that he did not discuss the incident with the league and that the NHL did not request any medical records like it did when Canucks defenceman Aaron Rome was suspended for four games for a hit late Nathan Horton. The Bruins forward out of the playoffs with a concussion.
When Horton was injured early in Game 3, the Bruins rallied around their fallen teammate to get themselves back in the series by winning three of the next four games. Can Raymond's injury be a rallying point for the Canucks?
"We've dealt with injuries the entire year," Canucks centre Ryan Kesler said. "I think for us, we've lost many guys this year to injuries, and it's going to be the same thing: go about business as usual, work extremely hard and just do business that way."All-season injury bug
The start of the injury bug for the Canucks began last summer when veteran defenceman Sami Salo suffered a ruptured Achilles tendon in a game of ball hockey back in his native Finland. The blue line was decimated with injuries at various times to Dan Hamhuis, Keith Ballard, Alex Edler and Kevin Bieksa, forcing the Canucks to use 10 different defencemen this season.
Alex Burrows and Raymond missed significant time up front, and popular centre Manny Malhotra suffered a series eye ailment in mid-March, only to see him return to action in the final.
The Canucks lost veteran Mikael Samuelsson in the second round and Dan Hamhuis in the series opener against the Bruins. There also has been speculation that Kesler and captain Henrik Sedin have played hurt in the playoffs, and that defencemen Andrew Alberts and Edler suffered injuries in Game 6 of the final.
Canucks coach Alain Vigneault could use Jeff Tambellini or move up Malhotra into Raymond's spot on the second line for the series finale, but we'll have to wait until game time to find out.
"For us, injuries and adversity have been part of our daily routine throughout this season and we faced every one of them head on," Vigneault said. "It's very unfortunate for Mason not to be able to play in the seventh game, but the guys that we have available are going to jump on the opportunity.
"We worked all year long to get home ice, to play in front of these great fans, to feed off their energy and that's what we're getting tomorrow. I think our home record is pretty good, too."
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