Mason Raymond out for 3-4 months

Updated: June 15, 2011, 12:22 AM ET
ESPN.com news services

VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- Vancouver Canucks forward Mason Raymond will miss Game 7 of the Stanley Cup finals and could still be out to start next season with a fractured vertebra after being checked into the boards.

Raymond sustained a "vertebrae compression fracture" early in Game 6 on Monday night and his back injury needs three to four months to heal, the team said Tuesday. He was hurt 20 seconds into the game when defenseman Johnny Boychuk hit him during the Boston Bruins' 5-2 win over Vancouver.

The deciding game will be Wednesday night in Vancouver.

[+] EnlargeMason Raymond
Harry How/Getty ImagesMason Raymond, center, is helped from the ice by teammates in the opening moments of Game 6. The Canucks forward has a fractured vertebrae and won't play for up to four months.

Raymond lay on the ice for several minutes before being helped off and taken to the hospital on a stretcher. No penalty was called on the play.

On the first shift of the game, Raymond became entangled with Boychuk in the corner after the puck went by both of them. He was spun backward with the defender's stick between his legs. Raymond ended up with his head down between Boychuk's legs as the defenseman finished his check by delivering Raymond backward into the boards, leaving him face down on the ice.

Canucks GM Mike Gillis, who hasn't talked with the NHL about the hit since Monday night, said Raymond is still hospitalized and was unable to make the trip back to Vancouver with the team Tuesday.

"All I can tell you is my observations of the hit," Gills told reporters at Rogers Arena. "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. I don't have much more to say about that other than that observation.

"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, and, you know, I'm always disappointed when you see any player get injured. But 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. You never want to see any player on any team have an injury like that," he said.

NHL senior vice president of hockey operations Mike Murphy, who is in charge of NHL discipline for the Stanley Cup finals because Colin Campbell's son, Gregory, plays for the Bruins, told ESPN.com's Scott Burnside on Tuesday the NHL is content with the call on the ice during the play and there are no plans for any supplemental discipline.

"We do not feel this play requires discipline," Murphy wrote in an email to The Associated Press. "It was an awkward collision that caused Raymond's injury. Very unfortunate."

Boston coach Claude Julien said it hadn't looked closely at Boychuk's hit.

"I don't really have time to really bother with that when you've got Game 7 coming up," he said after a short practice. "We've talked more about what we need to do here, not analyzing the injured player of the other team."

When asked if Raymond was in danger of not being able to walk, Gillis said the team had initial concerns.

"Initially, there was some very serious concern about that," he said. "He did move after he had been on the ice for a period of time. He began to move his legs and I know when he got to the hospital they were very concerned. If we get Mason Raymond back by November of next year, we will be very happy."

Given the severity of the injury, some wondered why Raymond wasn't taken off the ice on a stretcher. Gills stood by his trainers and personnel.

"I don't know why," he said. "I'm unsure. I think because he began to move his feet and he had feeling. We wondered about that as well, but I haven't had the chance to ask (the trainer). But our trainers are excellent trainers, so I'm sure they felt there was no risk at that point because of what he was saying and what he was doing on the ice."

Gillis said the Canucks waited as long as they could before leaving Boston in the hope that they could bring Raymond home with them.

"But they weren't going to release him until he was stable," he said. "They had designed a corset for him to be able to wear to be able to get out of the hospital and travel safely. That hadn't happened and we had to leave, so we haven't had an update. My presumption is that he is still in the hospital and will be there at least until (Wednesday) or the following day. But I'm unsure at this point."

Gillis said the team is hopeful Raymond won't need surgery at this point.

"Like I said, it's a severe injury and we'll know more over the next week when he gets back here," Gillis said. "At this point, they're hopeful that it won't require surgery, that it has the opportunity to heal on its own. He's going to face 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. Like I said, we're hopeful if we can get him back by November, I think that would be a win for us."

Raymond has struggled on Vancouver's second line in the postseason, managing just two goals and six assists.

The 25-year-old Raymond scored 15 goals this season and had 25 goals the previous season. Despite his low point total in 24 playoff games this season, he was among the Canucks' leaders with 17 shots through the first five games of the Cup finals. His speed will be missed on both the second line and killing penalties.

"Mason is a popular guy and we would love to have him in there," linemate Chris Higgins said. "It's unfortunate he can't play and we would love to win this one for him."

Raymond joined a growing list of Vancouver players who won't play for the Stanley Cup on home ice. Fellow second-line forward Mikael Samuelsson had abdominal surgery earlier in the playoffs; top defenseman Dan Hamhuis hasn't played since an undisclosed injury in the first game of the finals; and his replacement, Aaron Rome, was suspended for a late hit that also knocked top-line Bruins forward Nathan Horton out of the series in Game 3.

Vancouver's second-line center Ryan Kesler and top-scoring defenseman Christian Ehrhoff are also playing after get hurt during the Western Conference finals.

Jeff Tambellini could replace Raymond for Game 7. The son of Edmonton Oilers general manager Steve Tambellini is fast but hasn't scored since Dec. 28 and doesn't have a point while averaging less than six minutes during five playoff appearances, mostly on the fourth line.

Information from ESPN.com's Scott Burnside and The Associated Press was used in this report.