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Canucks GM critical of Boychuk, talks ‘dangerous’ Raymond injury

When it came to Mason Raymond(notes) after Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final, the first concern for the Vancouver Canucks and GM Mike Gillis wasn't penalties or suspensions or anything of the like — it was whether a player with a broken back was going to lose his ability to walk.

"Initially there was some very serious concern about that," said Gillis in Vancouver on Tuesday, one day before Game 7 against the Boston Bruins.

Raymond was eventually diagnosed with a vertebrae compression fracture. "If we get Mason Raymond back by November of next [season] we'll be very, very happy," said Gillis.

But after that diagnosis, the debate began: Was it a dirty play by Bruins defenseman Johnny Boychuk(notes) in the first period? Should it have warranted a suspension?

Gillis had some strong opinions about the play and the injury.

As a refresher, the Boychuk play:

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Acting NHL disciplinarian Mike Murphy told the L.A. Times there would be no suspension:

"We felt it was a battle for the puck," said Mike Murphy(notes), the league's senior vice president of hockey operations, in an email.

"Boychuk tried to eliminate Raymond by pushing him towards the boards as the puck went by. Raymond was in a very awkward position with his body in an L position. Boychuk pushed him [backside]-first into the boards, his head and neck area getting wrenched."

One might call it a "hockey play gone bad" … a phrase that the Canucks used to defend Aaron Rome(notes) when he knocked Nathan Horton(notes) out of the series in Game 3.

Gillis was blunt about Boychuk's hit on Raymond:

"I haven't had any discussion with them after last night. All I can do is tell you my observations of the hit.

"I didn't see the puck around him. I thought the Boston player used a can opener and drove him into the boards with enough force to break his back.  That's what I saw, and I don't have much more to say about it other than that observation."

Gillis was then asked about the suspension to Aaron Rome in relation to the Boychuk decision.

"I'm not in charge of supplementary discipline, so I'm not the right person to ask about that. I think when you see the severity of that injury, the way our doctors described it to me … very, very dangerous.

"You know, I'm always disappointed when you see any player get injured, particularly … I was asking [Assistant GM Laurence Gilman] when was the last time we saw a broken back occur in the NHL. I can't recall it other than an incident here a number of years ago. It wasn't a chipped vertebrae or cracked vertebrae. It's broken through the belly of his vertebrae, so it's a very serious injury. And you never want to see any player on any team have an injury like that."

Here's the presser with Gillis and Alain Vigneault:

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Jason Brough of the Kurtenblog had the Canucks-centric reaction to the Raymond play:

My personal opinion? No suspension warranted. It was an unfortunate result, but you can't say for sure if there was intent to injure. If I had to guess, I'd say there wasn't. Hurt, yes. But hurt is different than injure.

Of course, I thought the Aaron Rome hit on Nathan Horton belonged in the same category, hence the rub. Based on the ridiculous, unprecedented four-game suspension the NHL handed "The Example" Rome -- not to mention the five-minute major and game misconduct he received on the ice -- how are the Canucks and their fans supposed to feel about Boychuk walking away with no punishment whatsoever?

Scott Burnside of ESPN doesn't think there should be parallels drawn between the Rome and Boychuk plays, at least when it comes to penalties.

Because as a moment of inspiration for their respective teams, there might be a parallel to the drawn: Horton inspired the Bruins in every home game, and will be in Vancouver for Game 7; could Raymond's injury do the same for the Canucks?

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