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Tuesdays With Hildy: What's Up With The Fan Vitriol After The Aaron Rome Hit?

Much, much apologizes for the long term absence. I've had to deal with AP exam preparation for students, the end of school, the passing of a much loved family pet, a few other things, and some relocation BS or something that just won't end.* Luckily I've finally hit summer vacation and have a break in all of the insanity to write something. My brain hasn't been firing on all cylinders - probably still isn't - but I figured I'd go on and give it a shot.

Out of bitterness, I've been boycotting the Stanley Cup playoffs. I did catch game two Saturday night at a viewing/drinking party at a sports bar, but I decided to continue the anger that I feel at life and not watch yesterday's game. Apparently I missed something:

I'm not going to start a debate over whether or not this was kosher according to league rules, or if Nathan Horton was admiring his pass for too long, or if Aaron Rome targeted the head specifically. (no, yes, probably). What matters here is that Rome had ample time to let up or not hit at all, and that now a kid who had been trapped in playoff-free hell in Florida has been knocked out of the Stanley Cup finals by a terrible hit and a nasty concussion.

While I'm writing this, Rome is sitting in a hearing with the league learning of his fate. God only knows what it'll be - the NHL's discipline is inconsistent, and Brendan Shanahan doesn't go into effect as the new guy in charge until next season. What was immediate and telling were the reactions of fans on Twitter last night. Fans of both teams were outraged at the hit, generally. Heck, everyone was - except for a few. Our local Blackhawks fan (but we forgive him) @hawksbearscubs took the liberty of re-tweeteing some of the more ignorant ones, and my friend Ryan Classic of Silver Seven Sens caught on his blog a feed of one individual that was particularly disgusting in his lack of concern for Horton.

Canucks players after the game for the most part offered the concern that they needed to regarding Horton while at the same time not tossing their teammate under the bus, which is understandable.

"I mean, [Rome]) is an honest player," said Henrik Sedin. "It's tough to see [Horton] go out like that. It was late, but I don't think it was a terrible hit."

Ok, except for the fact that Horton had to be taken to the hospital.

There was Kevin Bieska's interpretation, which is probably partially true thanks to the fact that Horton's head did appear to make contact with the ice:

"I saw the replays. I couldn't tell by the replay if it was late or not. But obviously it was shoulder-on-shoulder. There was nothing dirty that way. There was no a shoulder to the head or an elbow to the head. I guess it was the impact [that injured him]."

"The hit itself was a clean hit in my mind. It was shoulder-on-shoulder," he continued. "I hope there isn't [as suspension]. But the League's done a good job so far."

Neither response is filled with venom. You can call BS on either if you want to; you can agree with either if you'd like. But that's not really the point that I'm getting at here - the point here is that whether you agree or disagree with their assessments, they were neutral. I realize that they can't be flaming asshats about it to the media even if they'd like to be, but what compels fans on Twitter and on comment sections of message boards to be so hateful regarding the injury of another individual?

What say you - is it a chance to be an anonymous asshat? Venting? General societal lack of a perception of how injury to another human being is a bad thing? Go on and play crack psychiatrists in the link. I do it every day at work. It's fun!

*(No, according to a local news report last night and yesterday, it might not be over yet - yaaay legal injunctions from pissed off owners!)