BOSTON -- Nathan Horton, the Bruins and their fans might have little sympathy for the plight of Aaron Rome, who was suspended for the balance of the Stanley Cup finals for his hit on the Boston forward.
But there is some humanity to consider here, as well.
Rome, 27, was originally drafted by Los Angeles with the 104th overall pick in 2002 and bounced around from the Anaheim organization to Columbus and finally to Vancouver. Although he started the playoffs out of the lineup, he worked his way in and has played in 14 postseason games for the Canucks this spring, including the first three games of the Cup finals.
Or rather, the first two games and 5:07 of Game 3 before he clocked Horton with a head hit that saw Horton carried off the ice on a stretcher. The Bruins announced Tuesday that Horton would not play again in the playoffs, as he has a severe concussion.
Rome, too, is done.
"I don't think he could talk to you right now. He's very emotional. He's very disappointed," Vancouver coach Alain Vigneault said Tuesday. "He's been taken out of the Stanley Cup playoffs. A couple of weeks ago, he was almost taken out of the Stanley Cup playoffs by another player in a situation that, in my mind, my opinion, was far worse. I don't think right now he could tell you anything because he's way too emotional about what happened."
Vigneault was referring to a hit in the Western Conference finals by the Sharks' Jamie McGinn that, in the league's view, did not warrant a suspension.
Rome made reference to it in a brief statement released by the team Tuesday.
"I want to express my concern for Nathan's wellbeing and wish him a quick and full recovery. I try to play this game honestly and with integrity," Rome said in the statement. "As someone who has experienced this type of injury I am well aware of its serious nature and have no desire for another player to experience it.
"I will not take away my teammates' focus on the task at hand and intend to speak at an appropriate time in future."
If the Horton injury proved to be a kind of rallying cry for the Bruins, who pounded Vancouver 8-1 in Game 3, the Canucks spoke of the same kind of emotion Tuesday, saying they wanted to win for a colleague they believe has been wronged by the NHL.
"He's been a big part of this team, a great player for us. It's tough to see what he's going through right now," Vancouver captain Henrik Sedin said. "At the same time, you don't want to see a guy like Horton out like he is. That's not fun to see. I'm hoping he's going to be fine."
Forward Manny Malhotra knows the pain of being denied something special. An eye injury looked to keep him out of the entire postseason. He returned in Game 2 of the Cup finals, but feels for Rome.
"It's devastating to be so close, to be playing in your dream, and now to have it taken away," Malhotra said. "It obviously hurts a lot. But that being said, he was a huge part of our team. His attitude, his mentality, his focus, just being around the guys, is going to help us a lot. Even though he won't be able to play, he's definitely going to be a big part and have a big impact on this team."