It was exactly what Milan Lucic
didn’t want to be looking at. Just seconds before, the Bruins forward had received a pass from teammate Nathan Horton
on his way to the Vancouver goal. But when the whistle sounded, Lucic looked back- and saw Horton lying prone on the ice.
“I went up to him and I looked in his eyes and I saw him looking at me and I knew something was up,” Lucic said. “It definitely wasn’t a good sight to see, one of your teammates down like that.”
Horton will miss the rest of the playoffs with a severe concussion after a hit by Vancouver Canucks defenseman Aaron Rome at 5:07 in the first period. Rome was assessed a five minute interference and game misconduct and was later suspended for four games by the NHL.
In a Game 3 that had already tangible tension, it was a moment that silenced both teams. The air seemed to rush out of the TD Garden, with players from both the Bruins and Canucks looking on in concern as paramedics tended to Horton on the ice before taking him off in a stretcher.
It’s an emotion that hasn’t lessened today, even with the news that Horton has been discharged from Massachusetts General Hospital and has returned home.
“A lot of concern,” Bruins forward Shawn Thornton
said. “I’m hoping he’s doing okay, and he’s gonna get through this.”
“We lost a pretty good player,” Bruins Head Coach Claude Julien added. “Obviously glad to know that it's not as bad as you always suspect and for him to be out, got out this morning, and has gone back home. Obviously a long road to recovery but hopefully he gets better soon.”
It’s an injury that will sideline one of Boston’s offensive powerhouses for the rest of the postseason. Horton is tied for second on the Bruins in playoff scoring, posting 17 points on eight goals and nine assists. He’s tallied three game-winning goals in the postseason, and finished the regular season 26-27=53 totals.
This was Horton’s first year in the Black & Gold, and his contributions quickly cemented his bond with the team.
“Things happen to any of your teammates, you’re gonna, I guess, rally around it. But he’s such a big part of our team, we’re gonna miss him, that’s for sure,” Thornton said. “We’re gonna want to do it for him.”
The Bruins will take their desire to honor Horton to the ice tomorrow night, but they won’t be commenting on the discipline the NHL handed down to Rome.
“That’s the League’s decision. I have no opinion either way on it, so they made the call and everyone has to live with it. There’s no point in making a statement on either side of it,” Thornton said. “You know, it is what it is.”
Julien, too, established a respect for the League’s ruling. Their call is important in working to reduce the number of dangerous hits on the ice, he said, and he intends to stand behind their decision.
“I think it's important for our whole league to protect our players from those kind of hits. And again, I support them,” Julien said. “Whether you agree or not, you support them.” ---Elizabeth Traynor