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Should Raffi Torres be suspended for his hit on Brent Seabrook? (Video and poll)

Apr 17, 2011, 10:59 PM EDT

Canucks Oilers Hockey AP

If insanity really is repeating the same action but expecting a different result, then Vancouver Canucks forward Raffi Torres might be insane. On his first game back after serving a suspension for a brutal hit on Edmonton Oilers rookie Jordan Eberle, Torres delivered a virtually identical hit on Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Brent Seabrook.

Torres received a major penalty for the hit on Eberle, but most importantly received a four-game suspension that included two playoff games. This time around, Torres only received a two minute interference penalty for his infraction on Seabrook, although many people think that the greatest repercussions will come once the league reviews the check.

We can debate the merit of punishing these types of hits all day, but the bottom line is that the league already set a precedent by suspending him for nearly the exact same offense. If you want to compare the two hits, we have video that includes both hits at the bottom of this post.

It’s a downright stomach-turning moment when you consider the fact that Torres obviously didn’t learn his lesson from before. He clearly had little-to-no interest in the puck and was going straight for Seabrook, with the only subjective portion being whether or not he was targeting Seabrook’s head. It’s nice that the Blackhawks were able to get a measure of revenge by scoring a power-play goal on the resulting minor penalty, but will the Canucks care if they lose a replaceable player in Torres?

The moment was interesting for reasons beyond the shenanigans of a player who is drawing unfavorable comparisons to Matt Cooke, though. This situation put the cloudiness of the league’s concussion evaluation process under the spotlight, as Seabrook was allowed to play after the hit. If the referees followed the letter of the new concussion laws, he would have been forced to go to “The Quiet Room” for 15 minutes to determine if he has a concussion or not.

Seabrook received another hit from Torres (this time a clean one), which finally forced him to the locker room. Thankfully, Seabrook returned to play in the third period, but it’s easy to wonder if he’s covering up concussion symptoms.

Now that you know the basics of the situation, take a look at video footage of the Torres hits on Seabrook and Eberle.

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There were many who think Torres should be suspended for the rest of the first round series, but with the Canucks now up 3-0 (more on the game itself in a later post), it might be better for him to receive a certain number of games. People equate a single playoff game to two regular games, so his previous punishment was essentially a six-game suspension. Considering the fact that he clearly didn’t learn from that mistake, I’d say a five-game time-out session might be appropriate.

How do you feel about the hit, though? Does Torres deserve to go without a punishment, a small suspension or something more severe? Let us know by voting in the poll below.

  1. derpdederpdederp - Apr 17, 2011 at 11:26 PM

    didnt look like too bad of a hit. might i remind you that this is the playoffs, physicality gets stepped up, and suspensions have to have serious merit come playoff time. this was a good clean hit that didnt target the head so theres no basis for a suspensions.

    and you say “it’s easy to wonder if he’s covering up concussion symptoms.”? remember there is a requirement for players to be examined by a third party doctor before they get back on the ice, so him covering up his symptoms is pretty unlikely. but hey, dont let facts like that get in the way of you writing your precious article.

    don cherry is right about you bleeding-heart media types. youve probably never played hockey, then you write an article in which you speculate about a concussion when you have no idea if seabrook is injured or not, and to cap it off you suggest torres should get a 5 game suspension for a good hard check. absolutely ridiculous

    • kotteintheslot - Apr 17, 2011 at 11:37 PM

      i could not agree more. the first thing you learn as a hockey player is to keep your head up which seabrook did not do! that is not torres fault.

    • James O'Brien - Apr 18, 2011 at 12:03 AM

      Seabrook seemed wobbly after the hit and almost certainly would have been examined if this wasn’t a playoff game. Hockey players fight through injuries, sometimes in cases in which they shouldn’t. For those reasons, yes, it’s reasonable to wonder if he ends up with a concussion. It doesn’t take 1,000 games of hockey experience to come to that conclusion.

    • rjlazz - Apr 18, 2011 at 5:20 AM

      He does deserve a suspension. Period. You can cry all you want about players keeping their heads up but this is about more than players keeping their heads up. The league is trying to save their players from eating out of straws for the rest of their lives. A hit like that could kill someone. I know the value of a good hit and believe me, I love em too. But c’mon. Calling that a good hit is just bogus. Either way you try to spin it, it was a penalty. Plus the fact that Torres’ elbow made contact with Seabrooks face, accidental or not it still did. So maybe you people should wipe away whatever crap is clouding your eyes and actually look at what happened. Not just that incident either, he was involved in a similar hit very recently too. So, if a goon can’t learn a lesson with a four game suspension, which this was his first game back, then maybe he should sit a 10 gamer. Next time someone may not be so lucky

      • derpdederpdederp - Apr 18, 2011 at 12:15 PM

        rjlazz – you cant shift responsibility for a hit entirely from the player getting hit to the player delivering. seabrook knew where he was and that guys can get popped behind the net, but he went there anyway and didnt keep his head up. he got his bell rung but he didnt look concussed. you mention the eberle hit, but if you take your own advice and actually watch that one youll see eberle is bent over and reaching for a puck. he puts himself in that position, that doesnt mean torres should shy away from laying him out. its really unfortunate that the nhl has reached this stage, that whenever a big hit is delivered were automatically talking about suspensions and concussions. enough with the buzzwords, its playoff time, let the guys play the game.

        James O’Brien – of course he seemed wobbly, he got lit up by torres. he played the rest of the game and seemed ok, and its the playoffs so if he wants to play with a bit of a headache thats fine. im sure the blackhawks wouldnt rick the health of their best defenseman if he was more seriously affected by the hit, but that doesnt appear to be the case

    • tekmaan - Apr 18, 2011 at 12:07 PM

      It was a good hit. The problem is torres hit him hard and seabrook was not looking out for himself. The NHL doesn’t want players to hit hard. Torres may deserve a suspension for being stupid, but not for this hit it was legal. I think that the hit on kessler by campbell in the third period was just as bad, and it was an elbowing penalty. What makes it worse is that in slow motion you can see campbell’s head look at kessler.s then he lifts his elbow and deliberately trys to hit kesslers head into the glass. In raffi torres hit on seabrook in slow motion you can see that at the last minute torres tries to turn to the boards and get out of the way a little to lessen the impact.
      Suspending players for this type of hit will lead to many more injuries as players will learn that if they just look away or turn their back no one can touch them.
      Keep your stick on the ice and keep your head up.

      • derpdederpdederp - Apr 18, 2011 at 12:17 PM

        exactly. every time we see a hard hit the talk immediately turns to the buzzwords concussions, suspensions, blind side hit, and all that stuff. its the playoffs and its time to let these guys play hockey. this is the first time in the 100+ year history of hockey that the players doing the hard hitting are being blamed and the players who have their heads down are looked at as the innocent victims. its just getting ridiculous

  2. derpdederpdederp - Apr 17, 2011 at 11:45 PM

    haha thats a little harsh, dont you think? calling people names on a comment board is one thing (immature) but wishing harm on someone else because of their views is another (completely needless stupidity)

    there was no “targeting of the head” or intent to injure, this was just a big check. seabrook had his head turned but thats no reason for torres to shy away from hitting him. theres nothing here to warrant a suspension. we dont need all the hitting taken out of hockey, just the cheap shots, and this was not one of those

    • polegojim - Apr 18, 2011 at 8:45 AM

      @ derpdederp – go figure out who you are – ‘a little harsh’ and ‘immature’ – yes you are.

      Two weeks ago you called me an ‘idiot’ (immature) for defending hard hits and guys skating with their heads up.

      Today – you’re defending hard hits and guys skating with their heads up and claim to be a hockey players commenter.

      This takes the cake: “don cherry is right about you bleeding-heart media types. youve probably never played hockey”

      Which is it? Are you a hockey player or just a chameleon who runs at writers? At least have the fortitude to be consistent.

      • derpdederpdederp - Apr 18, 2011 at 11:40 AM

        i would never mock someone for defending hard hits and guys being responsible for keeping their heads up. sorry but im not buying your incoherent statement

      • luvhockey - Apr 18, 2011 at 8:05 PM

        derpdeder…do you own this topic? Every other comment re Torres hit is you. We know your opinion. Give it up and stop shoving it down our throats. An awful lot of hockey enthusiasts/fans/players/coaches/commentators/journalists think differently from you.

        Most of us love big hits and even fights. However, the Torres hit was a suspendable hit but because it is playoffs and Vancouver, the NHL won’t step up to it. Not worth it to keep debating you.

      • derpdederpdederp - Apr 18, 2011 at 8:40 PM

        oh im sorry if that inconveniences you in some way, but what makes you think you telling me to shut up will do anything?

        i guess when it turns out my opinion, not yours, is the same as that of the nhl that might be reason to be upset with me, but theres not that much shame in being wrong. just deal with the fact torres threw a good hard hit and wasnt penalized for it even though all you bleeding hearts wanted that

        playoffs and vancouver have nothing to do with this. the fact that torres didnt break any rules is more relevant. rule 48 does not make a shoulder hit to the head illegal, the nhl recognized that torres did nothing wrong, and as a result he wasnt suspended. life goes on

  3. bentover - Apr 18, 2011 at 12:22 AM

    What ever happened to the mantra, taught to hockey players since Pee Wee, “Keep your head up?” Seabrook was skating around looking at his feet when he was leveled by a harsh hit from Torres. A harsh hit, but a legal hit. No headhunting, no elbow, no boarding – just a big league, playoff hockey, NHL hit.

    Dan Marouelli, the referee official interviewed between the peiods referred to players such as Torres being on their, “pre-game intelligence reporting.” Speaks of bias, doesn’t it? When a ref is told to target a player in case he does something, certainly makes it easier for the ref to, “over-call,” the situation.

    Kudos to the NHL for getting the head hits and the hits from behind out of the game. But it would be a real shame if they removed checking from hockey. But if they do decide to remove checking, they need to do it by a rule change, not one penalty at a time, one suspension at a time. Either a hit is legal, or it isn’t. It isn’t illegal only when delivered by a player on the ref’s pre-game inteligence report.

  4. Chris Ross - Apr 18, 2011 at 2:36 AM

    I think Torres should be suspended and a lengthy one at that. It’s not about this one hit, it’s about the future of the NHL and cracking down on continued recklessness, especially from repeat offenders. I’m a huge Canuck fan but I also want to do what is right. There are times to be a homer but now is not one of them. Don’t be ignorant, biased and just plain stupid. It’s better for the future goodness of the league and people need to understand that I think. There’s going to be a lot of controversy, which is understandable though and I hope the NHL makes the right decision.

    • derpdederpdederp - Apr 18, 2011 at 12:22 PM

      what youre basically advocating is a general reduction of hitting in the nhl. you people seem to not realize that you will never get head injuries completely out of a contact sport unless you completely take the contact out. the focus should be on hits that clearly target a players head or are dirty hits from behind. this was neither of those, it was just a good hockey check on a guy that should have been more aware of where he was on the ice. we cant start asking players to shy away from throwing a big hit just because their opponent has chosen to ignore his surroundings. that players got to take some responsibility. its the playoffs, enough of this calling for a players head every time theres a big hit delivered. if seabrok didnt get shaken up nobody would be calling for anything to happen, but because he might be injured we call for a suspension. injuries are no basis for a suspension but for some reason writers like you seem to think the opposite. don cherry is right about you bleeding hearts in the media that cant stand to see a good hard hit if it results in an injury

  5. bcjim - Apr 18, 2011 at 9:26 AM

    Enough with the “should have kept his head up” nonsense. Sure he should but the fact that he (or any player) doesn’t is NOT a license to take a free, dangerous cheap shot at them and it certainly doesn’t excuse any head shot.

    I am sick to death of hearing “well should have kept his head up”

    • derpdederpdederp - Apr 18, 2011 at 12:26 PM

      he shouldve kept his head up. torres did not throw a cheap shot, and there is an inherent danger in playing a contact sport like hockey. if you want to see the danger taken out of the game youll need to take out all hitting and fighting, but im sure most reasonable people dont want to see that happen. seabrook needs to know where he is on the ice and know that theres a good chance of getting popped behind the net. thankfully hes a good tough canadian player that took the hit, got back on the ice, and didnt whine about it afterwards. unfortunately theres more than enough media types and biased coaches to do the whining for him

  6. balewsquare - Apr 18, 2011 at 10:49 AM

    I don’t understand how people can say this is not a dirty hit. As said earlier, Seabrook’s head was down, but that doesn’t give a player a free pass to lay him with out with a dirty hit. Those apply when a guy is skating down the middle with his head down. Seabrook is looking for a puck that was rung around the boards behind his net. A puck which, by the way, Seabrook never gets his stick on before Torres lays on the hit, and it’s not like the puck arrived but hopped over his stick.

    To me, this is worse than Gillies’ second hit. His first was unforgivable, but the second hit was punished so harshly because it was his first game back. This is Torres’ first game back, and his second hit arguably resembles his first hit. Clearly he learned nothing. Time to put him on the shelf. I just don’t know how this was penalized for two minutes, something that equates it with minor elbows, interferences, and phantom trips.

    • derpdederpdederp - Apr 18, 2011 at 12:30 PM

      seabrook had his head down, that means if he gets popped he has himself to blame. torres caught him with a hard hit but it was by no means a cheap shot. he did not target his head or stick out his elbow to catch him in the face. this was just good playoff hockey but it looks like weve reached a point where people see a hit like this and want to legislate hard hits right out of the game because god forbid someone might get hurt. the day that happens is the day i give up on the nhl and start watching chl hockey where physical play is still allowed. hockey is a contact sport and therefore there is an inherent danger in it, but that has always been the case and will continue to be the case. these guys know that and we cant yell and scream for a guy to be suspended when something like this happens

      • derpdederpdederp - Apr 18, 2011 at 1:14 PM

        “As said earlier, Seabrook’s head was down, but that doesn’t give a player a free pass to lay him with out with a dirty hit. Those apply when a guy is skating down the middle with his head down.”

        for your consideration: brian campbell on rj umberger. umberger has his head down, skating up the middle, and he gets decked and concussed. by youre logic this would also be a suspendable hit. however this is clean hard hit, much as torres’ hit was

      • balewsquare - Apr 18, 2011 at 5:23 PM

        It won’t let me reply to your post with the video…Sorry if my wording was unclear, but what I meant with “Those apply when a guy is skating down the middle with his head down” was that, in that instance (Umberger skating with his head down), it is his (Umberger’s) responsibility to keep his head up. So no, I do not believe the hit on Umberger was suspendable.

        I thought the hit on Seabrook should have been because it did not seem very north/south. Torres hit Seabrook’s head with a shoulder, which, in a north/south hit, is clean. I also did not like the interference of it because, as you said, “the area behind the net can be dangerous.” I feel like if this hit is replicated, we will see many injuries to D-men just doing their job.

      • derpdederpdederp - Apr 18, 2011 at 5:59 PM

        true, the hit isnt exactly north/south but its hard to say that it was an illegal blindside. obviously theres a gray area there but i think the nhl made the right call. torres certainly didnt target the head or do anything malicious, he just caught seabrook with his head down

  7. balewsquare - Apr 18, 2011 at 12:59 PM

    Here is a link to the NHL Rule Enforcement video. In the video, there is a similar hits at about 2:55, Pronger hits Jody Shelley with what is said to be a clean shoulder hit to the head, as the player with the puck is going north/south and is responsible for keeping his head up.

    What determines if Torres should be suspended or not is what the NHL rules north/south is when the puck is behind the net. It is not straight along the side boards. Seabrook comes from the slot, making it east/west, but realistically has nowhere to go but turn along the boards, but does that make it now a north/south hit?

    To me, the hit is dangerous and illegal. I feel Seabrook coming from the front of the net gives him the cushion of the rules protecting his blind side. Otherwise, if this were allowed, it would happen often and frequently put defenseman in a risky, vulnerable position. The biggest key to me is that the puck never arrived on Seabrook’s stick, as it did on Shelley’s stick in the video. If it’s not rule 48, it’s at least a bad case of interference.

    • balewsquare - Apr 18, 2011 at 1:01 PM

      Sorry didn’t know the video would take up so much space. Just wanted to be able to view it with other similar hits. In the end, I have no idea what the NHL will think of this.

    • derpdederpdederp - Apr 18, 2011 at 1:17 PM

      go with a bad case of interference. defensemen know that the area behind the net can be dangerous but its there job to go there anyways. that being said i have a lot of respect for seabrook for taking the hit without complaining, getting back on the ice, and not whining to the media after the game.

  8. dustydehart - Apr 19, 2011 at 6:54 PM

    If the NHL says it was a clean hit than it was. It was Torres first game back from a “dirty” hit and if the league thought it was at all dirty they would have thrown the book at him. It sucks for a great player like Seabrook but he won’t make that mistake again!

    • dustydehart - Apr 19, 2011 at 6:57 PM

      Also I’m a Blackhawks fan. If it was Torres getting leveled everyone would have said he should keep his head up and to bad.

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