Skip to content

Top 10 2011 Playoff Moments: Rome-Horton hit goes down in infamy

Apr 9, 2012, 3:11 PM EDT

From Apr. 1-10, ProHockeyTalk will be counting down the Top 10 moments from the 2011 postseason.

Here’s No. 2 — Vancouver’s Aaron Rome getting the longest suspension in Stanley Cup finals history for hitting Boston’s Nathan Horton.

Coming into the 2011 Stanley Cup finals, it’s fair to say the hockey world was unfamiliar with Aaron Rome. The 27-year-old journeyman had spent the first four years of his NHL career bouncing from Anaheim to Columbus to Vancouver, where he finally settled in as a depth defenseman.

Coming into the Cup Final, Rome had been a semi-regular lineup fixture for the Canucks. He played in two of seven first-round games against Chicago, all six of the second-round victory against Nashville, three of five in the Western Conference finals and the first two of the Stanley Cup finals.

Game 3 was when everybody became familiar with Aaron Rome.

Five minutes into the first period, Rome unloaded on an unsuspecting Nathan Horton, knocking the Bruins forward out of the series:

Rome’s punishment for the hit was severe — the most severe in NHL history. Interim discipline czar Mike Murphy laid the hammer down, suspending Rome for the remainder of the Cup finals (four games.)

Prior to this, only three players had ever been suspended in the finals — Chris Pronger, Ville Niemenen and Jiri Fischer — with none of them receiving more than a single game as punishment. In essence, Rome quadrupled the longest suspension in Stanley Cup finals history.

“Two factors were considered in reaching this decision,” Murphy said in a statement. “The hit by Rome was clearly beyond what is acceptable in terms of how late it was delivered after Horton had released the puck, and it caused a significant injury.”

It wasn’t pretty, it wasn’t fun to watch and it was one of the most unsettling moments of the playoffs. But it’s also one of the most contentious moments in Cup finals history…which is why it’s on our list.

  1. kitshky - Apr 9, 2012 at 3:14 PM

    I have this image of Mike and Jason sittin round, faces covered in marked down Easter chocolate gigglin and just stirrrrin the pot…

    Love it.

  2. superbran17 - Apr 9, 2012 at 3:21 PM

    way too harsh of a suspension.

    • odj810 - Apr 9, 2012 at 3:28 PM

      the lateness of the hit make it alot worse even if you take the leaving your feat and direct head shot out of it.

      • hairpie - Apr 9, 2012 at 3:32 PM

        You are right…. however, your spelling is the worst.

      • odj810 - Apr 9, 2012 at 3:59 PM

        can’t disagree with you there

      • iamsteve2u - Apr 9, 2012 at 3:49 PM

        Sorry but you’re wrong. Watch the video again. His skates are on the ice when he makes contact and the contact is firstly and primarily to the shoulder. It was an ugly, late hit though. However, the suspension length was based on the result of the hit and was way over the top imho. One or two games would have been adequate.

      • davebabychreturns - Apr 9, 2012 at 5:22 PM

        The lateness of the hit is the only reason it was under consideration for supplemental discipline, and the injury is the only reason Rome received a precedent-setting (a shame – but not a surprise – that the precedent hasn’t been followed since) suspension.

    • scottybcboy - Apr 9, 2012 at 7:52 PM

      Much like the playoff Domi on Niedermayer….clean hit if it wasn’t away from the play/late.

  3. napoleonblownapart6887 - Apr 9, 2012 at 3:38 PM

    Ugh – whenever you see the stiffness like that in the arms it gives me the chills (not in a good way).

  4. hairpie - Apr 9, 2012 at 3:41 PM

    If you cheap-shot someone and injure them, you shouldn’t be allowed to play until they are healthy.

    • superbran17 - Apr 9, 2012 at 3:56 PM

      This will never work.. a star player could just touch a 4th line plug, and the 4th line plug could fake injury until after the playoffs, leaving the star player out of the game for the season/playoffs.

      • kitshky - Apr 9, 2012 at 4:23 PM

        Exactly, Im so tired of hearing people say that. Suspensions should be based on intent, not on injury … you go at someones head you should be suspended whether you make contact or not.

  5. habsman - Apr 9, 2012 at 4:29 PM

    One of the best hits of the year.

    A sucker-punching coward getting laid out.

    Rome got four games in the playoffs. Chara’s hit on MaxPac was even more dangerous and he got nada. Colie Campbell anyone? Sorry, he can’t help the Bruins this year.


    • itsallniceonice - Apr 9, 2012 at 4:45 PM

      If this is karma for a “sucker-punching coward getting” I sure can’t wait to see what happens to PK Subban.

    • jason9696 - Apr 9, 2012 at 4:54 PM

      Boston won and the losers from Vancouver lost. That’s all that counts.

    • davebabychreturns - Apr 9, 2012 at 5:25 PM

      Hey Habsman, weren’t you the guy chiding me for making light of a player’s injury?

      Awfully funny to see you in here crowing about a guy whose career has been put in jeopardy…

    • upyourstodd - Apr 9, 2012 at 7:10 PM

      We all know the wonderful gift Montreal and the Q gave to the NHL. Diving.

    • scottybcboy - Apr 9, 2012 at 7:48 PM

      You do know what karma means, right? Horton has a ring……Karma indeed!

    • winger77 - Apr 9, 2012 at 8:24 PM

      when are you idiots going to get off the Chara thing? there was nothing illegal about the hit Chara put on Pacioretty! yes, it’s unfortunate that there was an injury from it, but it was a clean hit based on the rules of the game. that wasn’t the first time somebody’s head has hit those stanchions at the end of the glass. players haven’t been suspended for it in the past, i don’t see why they should start suspending players for clean hits now. i am however, not surprised to see a Canadiens fanboy still complaining about that hit, after Pacioretty did this…
      …earlier this year. Rome deliberately targeted Horton’s head on the play, whether he left his feet or not, does not matter. it’s his obvious intent on hitting another players head that makes the suspension worthy.

      • davebabychreturns - Apr 10, 2012 at 12:44 AM

        There was no rule against targeting the head during that game.. If it was a blindside hit to the head you’d have a point but I don’t see how you can argue that Horton was blindsided by a guy standing up at the blueline.

        Rome was suspended because on a technically illegal play being viewed in millions of homes, he hospitalized a guy.

        If Horton shook it off and finished the game there’d be nothing to talk about (not because the hit wasn’t illegal because of its lateness and not because Rome didn’t hit Horton in the head, but because the league only reacts when there’s an injury).

      • winger77 - Apr 10, 2012 at 3:24 AM

        @ davebabychreturns: rules against targeting the head have been around for several years now. and, since this happened during last years playoffs…that means there actually was a rule against it at that time. there’s no disputing that the hit was late, but it was also a blatant head shot. he intentionally came up into the head, much like Pronger did a few years ago against Detroit. this hit was more severe than the Pronger hit, however, so the punishment was appropriate.

      • habsman - Apr 10, 2012 at 6:47 AM

        Better check your facts. Chara got a major and a game misconduct…..but no suspension.

        How many games would he get today for that deliberate attempt to injure?

      • winger77 - Apr 10, 2012 at 11:32 AM

        Chara would still get zero games for that hit today, because there was no deliberate intent to injure. referees have to make snap decisions on the ice when calling penalties. because of the nature of the hit, and the results, the instant on ice decision was to penalize him for it. and, in that case, they have to call the penalty. if for no other reason, than to appease the masses. can you imagine the chaos that would’ve erupted in the arena, and possibly on the ice, if they hadn’t given him the game misconduct, even on a clean check? it’s the same thing with the Zetterberg incident earlier this season… Zetterberg barely puts his hand on Nikitan’s back, Nikitan loses an edge and crumples into the boards. referees don’t have the benefit of looking at a slow motion replay before they call penalties. therefore, at full speed it does look as though Zetterberg puts him into the boards, and because of the results and the nature of the incident, the on ice decision is to give Zetterberg a game misconduct. it’s the right call to make, in the instant they have to make a call, even though Zetterberg hardly laid a hand on the guy in reality. btw, Campbell was not a part of the disciplinary committee hearing for the Chara hit. the league made him step back from that one and appointed someone else to fill his role, because his nephew played for Boston. quit crying about it already. it’s in the past, Pacioretty’s healthy and running around doling out head shots himself.

      • cableguymike - Apr 10, 2012 at 12:22 PM

        Actually, it was interference. Just like Rome’s hit. Both were late hits with devastating results. Neither targeted the head intentionally in my opinion. Somehow Chara’s got labelled “hockey play gone wrong” by Greg’s dad and the other got the largest suspension in Stanley Cup Final history. Both should have been suspensions. One wasn’t and one was far longer than it should have been.

    • drewzducks - Apr 9, 2012 at 9:59 PM

      Ha. Outscored their opponent 21-4 and won 4 of 5 after the hit. If that’s karma we’ll take it. You’re just upset that the last sniff of playoff action that your sorry franchise had was ended by Horton last spring. And as far as Maxi-pad is concerned, looks like he recovered quite nicely from the minor bump he sustained last year. Looks like Dr. Recchi was right again. No worries though, October will be here before you know it.

  6. arbruins - Apr 9, 2012 at 6:45 PM

    Habswoman posts are meaningless and a waste of time. He/she spews the same garbage all of the time.

    • terriers4 - Apr 9, 2012 at 7:32 PM

      I really am getting sick of seeing his posts, i am unsure why he has not been banned yet especially after they started to crack down on comments.

      • scottybcboy - Apr 9, 2012 at 7:49 PM

        Habsman must be Brough…he puts a skirt on and posts as someone else

        /office howls in appreciation

  7. bleed4philly - Apr 9, 2012 at 8:36 PM

    That was the turning point in the series

Top 10 NHL Player Searches
  1. P. Kessel (1841)
  2. P. Kane (1366)
  3. P. Datsyuk (1200)
  4. S. Matthias (1159)
  5. M. Giordano (1058)