Reporting from Vancouver, Canada — The Vancouver Canucks, vying for their first Stanley Cup championship, will play the decisive seventh game of the finals Wednesday without winger Mason Raymond, who suffered a vertebrae compression fracture as the result of being driven into the boards by Boston Bruins defenseman Johnny Boychuk on Monday.
The Canucks took the unusual step Tuesday of announcing the nature and severity of the injury, saying Raymond will be out three to four months. That kind of information is usually top secret this time of year.
But if their motivation in disclosing the extent of Raymond’s injury was to persuade the NHL to suspend Boychuk for Wednesday’s game at Rogers Arena, they were unsuccessful.
Mike Murphy, the league’s senior vice president of hockey operations, said via email the league reviewed the play — as it does with nearly every play that causes an injury — but decided against punishing Boychuk.
“We felt it was a battle for the puck,” Murphy said. “Boychuk tried to eliminate Raymond by pushing him toward 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.”
The Bruins have been without winger Nathan Horton since Game 3, when he suffered a concussion on a late hit by Vancouver defenseman Aaron Rome. The NHL, citing the lateness of the hit and the extent of the injury, suspended Rome for four games, the longest sentence ever imposed in the Cup finals.
Canucks General Manager Mike Gillis said Raymond faces a long, hard recovery. “We’ve been told it’s going to be very challenging for him and he’s going to be in a difficult position for some time,” Gillis said.
Of the hit, Gillis said: “I thought the Boston player used a can opener and drove him into the boards with enough force to break his neck.”
Gillis also said the team tried to delay its flight home from Boston to bring Raymond along but the winger hadn’t been fitted for a protective corset and wasn’t able to leave the hospital.
It’s been awhile
A win by either the Canucks or Bruins on Wednesday would end a Cup drought.
The Canucks, who entered the NHL in the 1970-71 season, have never won the championship. The Bruins, a member of the NHL since the 1924-25 season, haven’t won the Cup since 1972.
No Canada-based team has won the Cup since the Montreal Canadiens defeated the Kings in 1993.
The home team has won each game of these finals. Home teams are 12-3 in Game 7s.
Four members of the Bruins have played in a Game 7 at least seven times, led by 43-year-old Mark Recchi’s upcoming 11th career Game 7. That’s the most among active NHL players.
It could also be Recchi’s last NHL game, though he’s reluctant to consider that.
“It crosses my mind, but I have a job to do out there for the guys and I can’t put those thoughts in my head,” he said after the 5-2 victory in Game 6.
“I’m going to lay it on the line one more time and see where it takes me after that. No matter what, it’s been a great 22 years and I’ve enjoyed every minute of it. This has been one of my best ones, regardless of what happens”