Bruins' Horton, Canucks' Rome both to miss rest of finals
Nathan Horton will miss the rest of the Stanley Cup finals with a severe concussion, and Canucks defenseman Aaron Rome also is finished after the NHL suspended him for four games Tuesday for his late hit on the Bruins forward during Game 3.
Horton had just passed the puck early in the first period Monday night when Rome turned his shoulder and left his skates to flatten him. The 26-year-old Horton, the right wing on Boston's top line, apparently was knocked unconscious, hitting his head on the ice and staying down for several minutes before medical personnel took him away on a stretcher.
The Bruins saw it as a blindside hit — the type of blow that the league has tried to eliminate in the past year with Rule 48 after several players sustained severe concussions in recent seasons.
The Canucks vehemently disagreed Tuesday, uniformly claiming it was a legal blow to Horton's chest, only perhaps an instant late.
Mike Murphy, the NHL's senior vice president of hockey operations, agreed the hit would have been legal if it hadn't been late. But given its timing and Horton's subsequent injury, the NHL determined Rome would miss the rest of the series.
"I thought it was a late hit," Murphy said. "I thought that the body was contacted, but I also thought that the head was hit. It caused a serious injury to Nathan Horton. ... 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."
The Canucks vocally rushed to Rome's defense after practice Tuesday at Boston University, criticizing the severity of the suspension during the final postseason round. Game 4 is Wednesday night.
"We disagree with the decision, and it was a clean hit," Vancouver captain Henrik Sedin said. "Talking to Aaron was extremely emotional. When you get to this point in the playoffs, you want to be a part of it on the ice, and Romer didn't deserve what he got."
Rome didn't attend the Canucks' practice, but issued a brief statement through the team expressing concern for Horton's health and recovery.
"I try to play this game honestly and with integrity," said Rome, himself the victim of a serious hit from behind by San Jose's Jamie McGinn during the Western Conference finals. "As someone who has experienced this type of injury, I am well aware of its serious nature and have no desire for another player to experience it."
■ The Phoenix Coyotes traded the negotiating rights of free agent goalie Ilya Bryzgalov to the Philadelphia Flyers for forward Matt Clackson, a third-round draft pick in 2012 and future considerations.
NBC keeping Games through 2020
NBC has retained its hold on U.S. Olympic television rights by defeating rival bids from ESPN and Fox and securing a four-games deal through 2020 worth nearly $4.4 billion.
NBC won the bid less than a month after the resignation of longtime sports and Olympics chief Dick Ebersol in a dispute with the new owners from Comcast. The victory extends NBC's reign as the Olympic network in the United States, a period stretching back 20 years.
NBC now will have exclusive rights to the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi, Russia, the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, as well as the 2018 Winter Games and 2020 Olympics, whose sites have not yet been chosen.
Truex Jr. gets new crew chief
Martin Truex Jr. will have a new crew chief beginning this weekend at Pocono Raceway in Pennsylvania. Lead engineer Chad Johnston will replace Pat Tryson, who was reassigned to another position at Michael Waltrip Racing.
Tryson announced right before the start of the 2009 Chase for the Sprint Cup championship that he was leaving driver Kurt Busch and Penske Racing at the end of the year to move to MWR to be the crew chief for Truex. But Tryson was never able to create the same success with Truex, who goes into Sunday's race ranked 21st in the Sprint Cup standings with just three top-10 finishes this year. Truex was 22nd in points last year, with only one top-five.
■ Sam Hornish Jr. will return to the Sprint Cup Series for the first time this season at Pocono. Hornish will replace Travis Kvapil in the No. 38 Ford for Front Row Motorsports. Kvapil will spend the weekend racing in the Trucks Series event at Texas.
Hornish has decent results at Pocono. In six career Cup starts, he has one top-five, two top-10s and four top-15s.
College Softball World series
Arizona St. finishes off Florida for title
Katelyn Boyd and freshman Alix Johnson each drove in three runs, Annie Lockwood homered and Arizona State beat Florida 7-2 Tuesday night in Oklahoma City to win its second NCAA softball championship in four years.
The top-seeded Sun Devils (60-6) used a combination of holdovers from their first Women's College World Series title in 2008 and some key freshmen to continue the Pac-10's dominance of the event. The conference has won 23 of the 29 championships, including the last six in a row.
Dallas Escobedo (37-3) pitched a four-hitter to win her 19th straight decision, in the process becoming the first freshman pitcher to win the title since UCLA's Heather Compton in 1990.
American men shut out Canada
Jozy Altidore scored in the first half and set up Clint Dempsey's goal in the second, and the United States opened its Gold Cup schedule with a 2-0 win over Canada on Tuesday in Detroit.
The 21-year-old Altidore was playing his first game in a Gold Cup, which is the championship of North and Central America and the Caribbean. His goal in the 15th minute put the U.S. ahead, and Dempsey added one in the 62nd off a nice cross from Altidore.
The U.S. bounced back after losing 4-0 to World Cup champion Spain in an exhibition game Saturday. The Americans have never lost a group stage game at the Gold Cup.
The last word
Vancouver Canucks goalie Roberto Luongo had this to say a day after coming out on the short end of an 8-1 loss to the Boston Bruins in Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Finals:
"I've waited my whole life to be here. I'm not going to put my head down. It's time to get back to work."