A full transcript of comments to the media made by NHL senior vice-president of hockey operations Mike Murphy today on the Aaron Rome suspension.
Q. Mike, can you walk us through the hit, the way you viewed it when you slowed it down and watched it in real-time. Do you think it was blindside or not?
MIKE MURPHY: I probably viewed it like most of you did. I thought it was a late hit. I thought that the body was contacted. But I also thought that the head was hit.
It caused a serious injury to Nathan Horton. So the key components are: the late hit, which I had it close to a second late. We have our own formula at NHL Hockey Operations for determining late hits, and it was late. We saw the seriousness of the injury with Nathan on the ice last night.
That's basically what we deliberated on. We tried to compare it with some of the other ones in the past. But it stands alone. It's why we made the ruling.
Q. Can you share what your conversation with Aaron was like? Did he have an explanation for how he viewed it, what he was thinking?
MIKE MURPHY: Yeah, I can. I don't want to say much because the hearing is a private conversation.
But he felt it was a hockey play, a hockey play that went bad. Those are my words, not his, but that's basically what he said. It was a one-on-one play. The puck was released, and he followed through with the hit.
Q. The suspension was for the lateness of the hit.
MIKE MURPHY: Yes. The lateness combined with the injury.
Q. Without speculating too much, had that hit occurred quicker, a split second after he released it, would that hit have been deemed legal under Rule 48?
MIKE MURPHY: This has nothing to do with Rule 48. This is just an interference penalty, an interference hit. If it was immediate after he released the puck, it would be a legal hit. We have them all the time.
Q. Because it's a north/south hit?
MIKE MURPHY: North/south play. And we viewed it as that, too.
Q. Mike, how difficult is it to take away Aaron's ability to play in this series? These are different than regular-season games.
MIKE MURPHY: I take it very seriously, very seriously. Aaron Rome is an important part of the Vancouver team. Guys play all their lives to get to this series on both teams, and you might never get back. So I take it very seriously.
That's all I can say. I do not make light of this. I wish I wasn't sitting here. I wish Aaron was playing, and I wish Nathan was playing.
Q. This is the longest final suspension assessed in Stanley Cup Final history. Can we as media that cover this head-hitting incident for the last three years assess that the league has taken a step to the more serious side of punishing these kind of hits?
MIKE MURPHY: Without question, we have. And I think we have ramped it up through the year. Most of what I know and what I decided on today I've learned from Colin Campbell. I know he learned a lot from Brian Burke.
This has to do with what we talk about almost on a nightly basis in the Toronto video room when we have multiple clips, not to this severity, but we have a group of people that share ideas and share thoughts.
We often get asked about panels. Yeah, we have a panel of people that I discuss this with, and a lot of people outside the panel. As difficult as it was, this was the right thing to do.
Q. Whenever something like this happens, we all give our opinion, one game, two games, rest of series. What was your thought process, your conversations behind the scenes, to arrive at a specific number?
MIKE MURPHY: First of all, I don't make any assessments immediately. I need to look at things in a little cooler temperature than the arena. You never want to say something that's wrong, especially in the severity of these type of things where we've got one young man in the hospital and one young man taken out of the Final.