Welcome to our second edition of Blog Wars, in which we pit our Vancouver Canucks blogger, Harrison Mooney of Pass It To Bulis against Boston Bruins bloggers, Jon and Justin of Days of Y’Orr. The two blogs will debate the fine points of each game of the Stanley Cup Finals.
Was the NHL fair in dealing a four-game suspension to the Canucks’ Aaron Rome after his season-ending hit on Nathan Horton?
Harrison, Pass It To Bulis: I think the four-game suspension is harsh, especially since it wasn’t the lateral blindside hit the league’s been [ineptly] cracking down on all year long. This hit wasn’t even particularly dirty or malicious; it was just late. Had Rome stepped up a split second sooner, it’s a clean hit, shoulder to shoulder. Instead, he gets there just as Horton is getting down into his stride, and shoulder to shoulder becomes shoulder to head. Anyone who watches Aaron Rome knows that he’s not a dirty player, but his timing isn’t always great on hits. This was one of those instances and it cost him.
I’m interested in what the league would have done if it wasn’t a role player fans don’t particularly care for. The league’s been taking a beating on headshots this season, and on the major stage of the Final, with all the added attention, they weren’t going to risk getting lambasted again, especially on a play that looked so horrific. Since Rome’s no star, they took the opportunity to make an example of him. Canuck fans likely won’t mind, either. Most were hoping he’d would be removed from the lineup for Keith Ballard anyhow. Now it seems Alain Vigneaut will have no choice, unless he bypasses Ballard entirely for Chris Tanev.
But, if it had been Bieksa or Hamhuis or someone we hold in higher esteem, I’d be absolutely furious. The suspension is too long.
Justin, Days of Y’Orr: Rome certainly deserved to be suspended. The length doesn’t really matter because the Canucks lost a marginal defenseman and will likely improve with the loss of Rome while the Bruins lost one of their most lethal scorers in Horton. Horton has been clutch for the Bruins in the playoffs, especially in overtime, and now that is gone.
Rome had plenty of time to stop. We don’t buy some of the arguments coming out of Vancouver that Rome couldn’t stop the momentum or did everything he could to avoid Horton. The puck was long gone by the time Rome got there, Rome could obviously see Horton wasn’t looking and it was going to be blindside and the hit was 100% unnecessary The NHL is trying to send a message but all they’ve done is prove that if you’re a marginal, barely talented player the rules apply to you but if you’re a star or semi-star player you’ll just get a slap on the wrist.
The more irritating part is the mantra from the Canucks organization and official Twitter, some of which has already been deleted, that the hit wasn’t late. If Shawn Thornton had done that very same hit to one of the Sedins the organization would be calling for his head.
Harrison, Pass It To Bulis: The length does matter. It’s much too long. Let’s be clear: Rome was playing in the Canucks shutdown pairing. Granted, he’s a second stringer after Dan Hamhuis, but the Canucks are now down to their third choice on their most important pairing. That hurts.
Also, it’s not about whether or not Rome had time to stop. Once he had committed to the hit, it was going to happen. Sometimes I think people forget how fast the game actually is. It’s like that scene in Rookie of the Year where Henry swings at the baseball after the umpire’s already called strike. On television, it looks like there’s time. In real life, it’s fast as Hell. It’s not like Rome took a look, saw Horton put his head down, and then made the conscious decision to concuss him. Rome was on the wrong side of a half second and, as I said, timing simply isn’t his strong suit.
Furthermore, the Canucks have every right to argue that the hit wasn’t late. What’s late, anyway? here’s no standard whatsoever. As a hockey fan, I’ve heard anything from a half a second to a second and a half. Heck, the “late hit” term only really comes up when someone gets hurt on an otherwise clean check. We see hits like Rome on Horton regularly. If the guy pops up? Great hit. But when he stays down? Late hit.
That said, I could definitely buy unnecessary. I like hits when they separate a guy from the puck. Horton had already gotten rid of it, so it wasn’t a needed check.
While we’re still on this, a word on Mike Murphy, who apparently needs a PR person to help him handle the press after making a ruling. While I agreed with his decision not to suspend Alex Burrows, I hated his silly statement that used lack of evidence as a deciding factor. Now we have another botched statement, as Murphy a) admits to punishing to the injury, which is stupid, and b) admits to consulting Brian Burke, the general manager of another team, who has an axe to grind with the Canucks and Mike Gillis. Conflict of interest? You bet your ass. I’m sure it was all above board, but my goodness, the optics are confounding. Seriously, it’s clear the NHL is working to get disciplinary stuff figured out, but with Colin Campbell’s resignation, we have a less experienced interim guy doling out historically long suspensions without precedent in the Stanley Cup Final? It’s ridiculous.
It’s amazing Rome is the topic du jour today, though. The Canucks weren’t even the dirtiest team last night. My goodness, is it possible to be proud of the way Ference, Thornton, and Lucic played? Amazing that the accusations lobbied at the “classless” Canucks have died down today. Boston took the dirty play to dizzying new heights last night.
Justin, Days of Y’Orr: The NHL is just going to be a distant fourth in the “big four” sports until they get their act together. Lets say Henrik Sedin or Patrice Bergeron blatantly elbowed someone right now… probably about a 3% chance they’d get suspended. If Danny Paille or Mason Raymond elbow someone? See you later, have fun golfing while your team plays. Rules should either apply across the board or not at all. But I guess that is a discussion for another time.
The Canucks are not exactly known as being gentlemen on the ice. Before the series even started, there was talk of benching Seguin and bringing in Thornton to help deal with guys like Torres who like to take cheap shots. Even Helen Keller can see the Canucks have taken their fair share of blatant cheapshots with Bruins skaters and what we saw last night was the Bruins fighting fire with fire.
To say the Bruins brought dirty play to new heights is the pot calling the kettle black. Torres went for an obvious cheap shot on Boychuk near the end of the game, Burrows slashed Thomas in the glove hand before Lucic went after him, Kesler didn’t throw a punch until he and Seidenberg fell in the fight that wasn’t a fight and he landed on top of Seidenberg, Jannik Hansen blatantly slashed Krejci before he scored, etc etc. For every Bruins liberty there was and equal Canucks liberty taken. It is okay for either side? No, but one team can’t complain when the other team does it and ignore their own teaming doing it. It is the Finals. You get what you give and both sides are giving their fair share of shots. Canucks poked the bear and didn’t like what they got in response. Don’t dish it out if you can’t take it Vancouver.
Tags: Aaron Rome, Blog Wars, Boston Bruins, featured, hockey, Nathan Horton, NHL, spotlight, Stanley Cup Finals, Vancouver Canucks