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BOSTON (CBS) – The Boston Bruins are happy with the NHL’s ruling to suspend Vancouver’s Aaron Rome, but it does little for the condition of Nathan Horton, who is out for the rest of the Stanley Cup Finals with a severe concussion.
“It doesn’t bring Nathan back,” said Milan Lucic, who played alongside Horton on the Bruins’ top line. “He’s been one of, if not our best forwards throughout the playoffs. It’s a big loss for us, but it’s an opportunity for someone to now step up.”
Horton was diagnosed with a severe concussion and will miss the rest of the Finals after being hit by Rome in the first period of Monday night’s Game 3. The Bruins forward spent Monday night at Mass General Hospital and was released Tuesday morning. There were reports Horton still thought he was in Vancouver after the hit, but his condition sounds much better the day after.
“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.”
Milan Lucic On Rome Suspension, Horton
Horton was playing in the first postseason of his career, and was second on the Bruins with eight playoff goals and tied for second with 17 points. He scored two series-winning goals, in Game 7 of both the Montreal series and Eastern Conference Finals against the Tampa Bay Lightning.
“We just lost a real important part of our hockey team right now,” said coach Claude Julien. “Hopefully he gets better soon.”
“It’s tough to replace a guy like that, but we’re going to have to do it without him,” said forward Shawn Thornton.
Shawn Thornton On NHL’s Decision, Horton
“We still have to go out there and focus on what we need in order to have some success,” said Lucic.
Now with their teammate out, the Bruins will try to move on as they make a push for their first Stanley Cup trophy in 40 years.
“You definitely want to win it for a guy like that,” said Lucic. “He’s done so much for our team this year to get us to this point. You can use it for motivation if you want. For me, he’s made a big impact in my life as a friend and as a linemate.”
“The best revenge is beating them on the scoreboard and that’s the way we have to look at it,” added Lucic
The Bruins are glad the NHL made the decision they did, but the Canucks losing Rome will have nowhere near the impact the loss of Horton will have on Boston.
“That’s not the way those hits usually work,” said Andrew Ference about the Bruins losing a much higher quality player in Horton. “That’s the way it is. He’s (Rome) paying the price by missing the rest of the Stanley Cup Finals which for any hockey player, whether you’re on the first line or fourth line, it hurts. That’s what the NHL has to do and that’s what they obviously did.”
NHL Senior VP of Hockey Operations Mike Murphy made the ruling, and said the hit did not fall under Rule 48 which bans head shots. Murphy says the hit was not a head shot and had it come immediately after the pass, it would have been legal.
“We tried to compare it to some of the other ones in the past but it stands alone,” said Murphy.
Murphy said Rome was contrite and apologetic in his meeting with NHL officials on Tuesday.
“As difficult as this was, this was the right thing to do,” he said. “I wish I wasn’t sitting here. I wish Rome was playing. I wish Nathan was playing.”
98.5 The Sports Hub is the only local station to listen to every game of the Stanley Cup Finals. Coverage begins an hour before each game with the Bruins Pregame show hosted by Dave Goucher & Bob Beers.