BOSTON - The NHL will hold a disciplinary hearing with Vancouver Canucks defenceman Aaron Rome on Tuesday to discuss the blindside hit that sent Bruins forward Nathan Horton to the hospital in Game 3 of the Stanley Cup finals.
League spokesman Frank Brown said the hearing was scheduled for 11 a.m. The league had no other comment on the hit and referred all questions on Horton’s condition to the Bruins.
Horton remained hospitalized on Monday night after leaving the game on a stretcher, strapped to a backboard with his neck immobilized, in the first period of a scoreless game.
He had just passed the puck and was entering the Canucks’ zone when Rome levelled him with an open-ice hit just outside the Vancouver blue-line at 5:07 of the first period.
Horton crashed to the ice, apparently hitting his head on the ground, then remained there without moving while his right arm hung ominously in the air. Trainers rushed out to tend to him; after several minutes, they strapped him to a board and wheeled him off on a gurney.
The Bruins said Horton was transported to Massachusetts General Hospital and was moving all extremities.
The Boston crowd started chanting: “Nathan Horton! Nathan Horton!” as he was loaded on to the stretcher.
Rome was called over to the penalty box, then ushered off the ice after being assessed a five-minute major _ served by Raffi Torres _ and a game misconduct.
“That’s a late, late, late hit,” hockey personality Don Cherry said during the first intermission on CBC’s Coach’s Corner. “That’s not good when its so late. (Horton) never dreamed it would be so late.”
Boston coach Claude Julien told the Versus television broadcast that he had no other information on Horton, who is in the playoffs for the first time in his NHL career.
“It’s a tough thing to swallow right now,” Julien said. “Our spirits are OK. I heard guys saying, ’Let’s do it for Horty.’ So we’re good to go.”
“Looking back at the hit, you say was it a dirty hit,” Julien added.
“I think what I would call it is, it was a blindside hit that we’ve talked about taking out of the game. He made the pass. It was late. He came from the blindside. ... (I) say what I always say: ’Let the league take care of it.’ We’re trying to clean that out. Let’s see where they go with that.”
“We talked about obviously playing for Horty,” said Bruins forward Mark Recchi, who scored twice. “We knew it was a late hit, but we were a little more concerned about his health at that point. We know he’s doing a lot better right now and he’s doing OK at the hospital.”
“Obviously, you never want to see any player leave in that situation,” Canucks coach Alain Vigneault said. “I think our whole team and myself and the whole organization hopes that he’s all right. ... I don’t think that’s the hit that the league is trying to take out of the game. This is a physical game, you have big guys. Fraction of a second to decide what’s happening out there. It’s very unfortunate. You never want to see that. But this is a physical game.”
After the play, several NHLers took to Twitter to comment on the hit.
Max Pacioretty, a forward with the Montreal Canadiens who was severely injured by a body check from the Bruins’ Zdeno Chara during the regular season, posted: “My thoughts and prayers are with Nathan Horton and his family right now.. hoping for the best for him.”
Anaheim Ducks forward Bobby Ryan said: “Hope he's ok. Heck of a hit to take.”
Joffrey Lupul of the Toronto Maple Leafs tweeted: “Hope Horton is OK. Scary stuff.”
— With files from The Associated Press