Apr 18, 2011, 11:47 AM EDT
(Do you think Raffi Torres deserves a suspension for his hit on Brent Seabrook or no punishment at all? Vote in our poll to share your thoughts on the matter.)
In my time following controversial hits, there haven’t been many moments when a coach or fellow player criticizes someone on their own team. Maybe they disagree with the nature of a check behind closed doors, but considering how much these people go through together, it’s stunning that it ever happens the other way.
Off the top of my head, there are two examples of slight criticism of a teammate or pupil: Anaheim Ducks coach Randy Carlyle admitted that Bobby Ryan‘s foot stomp had “no place in the game” while Boston Bruins defenseman Andrew Ference wasn’t very happy with a Daniel Paille hit.
To little surprise, Canucks coach Alain Vigneault defended Torres when asked about the situation. In fact, he didn’t even think it should have been a penalty. Here’s a snippet of his comments, via Tracey Myers of CSN Chicago.
“Hockey is a collision sport, there’s a lot of intensity. I compare that hit to (Ryan) Getzlaf on (Dan) Hamhuis, and (Getzlaf) didn’t even get a two-minute minor. I didn’t think it was a penalty.
“Obviously you never want to see a player get hurt, and I understand where (the league) is going with it, but hockey is a physical game. I think each and every one of us wants it to stay a physical game without players getting hurt, but in a collision sport there’s always going to be injuries.”
Vigneault has a point about the considerable gray area between the Torres-Seabrook hit and the check Getzlaf delivered on Hamhuis, which just shows the increasing level of confusion surrounding the way the league polices its players.
Also to little surprise, Blackhawks players and coach Joel Quenneville weren’t especially happy about the hit. Here’s Coach Q’s direct and angry response, also via Myers.
“Brutal, major, absolutely. They missed it. We could’ve scored four goals on that play,” said Quenneville, who added Seabrook did have to go off at the end of the second period “to settle down. We’re lucky he’s a big Western Canadian kid. Someone else would’ve been on a stretcher.”
Speaking of that “big Western Canadian kid,” Seabrook discussed the hit but was wise to be mostly diplomatic about it.
Seabrook said he didn’t have control of the puck and didn’t see Torres coming.
“I don’t know what I was looking at to be honest with you,” he said.
Torres just came off a four-game suspension – the last two regular-season and first two postseason games – for his hit to the head of Edmonton rookie Jordan Eberle on April 5.
“I haven’t watched the hit yet so I don’t want to comment on it,” Seabrook said. “He’s a hard-nosed guy. He’s been in trouble with the league before for doing the same kind of thing. I’m going to leave it at that and let the league look at it and whatever they do is what we have to deal with.”
It’s hardly a shock that the opposing teams hold differing viewpoints about the hit, but it’s a divisive issue with our readers, too. The league faces a tough balancing act between allowing the kind of physical play that is a hallmark of the game and punishing hits that go over the line.
Maybe one of these days, everyone will actually know where exactly that line is.
Here’s video of Seabrook discussing the hit, again from CSN Chicago.
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