BOSTON - Given the chance to level Nathan Horton again, Aaron Rome would probably make the same play that got him kicked out of the Stanley Cup final.
The Vancouver Canucks defenceman ended his silence after practice Sunday and made it clear that he still doesn't understand why the NHL handed him a four-game suspension for hammering Horton with a late hit in Game 3.
"If I could go back, I'd wish he didn't get hurt but I don't think it would change my decision on the play," said Rome. "I've got to step up and be physical, that's part of my game. It's just unfortunate."
The suspension he received from league vice-president Mike Murphy is the longest in the history of the Stanley Cup final.
Horton suffered a concussion on the play and is out for the series. Rome attempted to reach the Bruins forward with text messages but didn't receive a response.
"It's an emotional time," said Rome. "He's not going to be able to play in the series too. Obviously, I understand being on that side of hits where you're pissed off about it. He wants to be out there just like anybody else."
Rome suffered his own concussion during the Western Conference final on a dangerous hit from San Jose's Jamie McGinn that didn't draw a suspension. That was one of the incidents he cited when expressing frustration over the length of his ban.
One of the main criteria that factored into Murphy's decision is that the hit came almost a full second after Horton made a pass prior to skating into the offensive zone. For his part, Rome acknowledged that the contact came late.
"There has to be some accountability on the part of the player skating with the puck up the middle of the ice — maybe with his head down not looking," said Rome. "If it's half a second earlier, a quarter of a second earlier, I'm not in this situation.
"But the game happens fast and, for me, I've got to play on the edge and I guess that time it a little bit over the edge."
Rome has continued practising with his teammates even though he's not eligible to return to the lineup until next season. He'll be permitted to take to the ice and celebrate if the Canucks go on to capture the Stanley Cup.
"You want to be a part of it," said Rome. "Just because I'm not playing I'm not going to mope about it and hide in a cave and not speak to the media or be around my teammates. I've been here two years and for me to be out with the team, it's a way for me to release some stress and be part of it."
The 27-year-old defenceman is a journeyman who played one playoff game for Anaheim in 2007, the year they went on to win the Stanley Cup. However, the game wasn't in the final and he didn't have his name inscribed on the trophy.
After getting back to the championship and working his way into the lineup, he's bitterly disappointed that it was taken away with one bad decision.
"I couldn't put it into words for you," said Rome "You work hard all season and all playoffs, and for myself being in and out of the lineup getting chance to play every day, working your (tail) off to be out there at this time of the season. It's disappointing.
"For me, you've just got to try to look at the bright side and just kind of let it make you stronger."