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Blackhawks, Canucks react to Raffi Torres hit on Brent Seabrook

Apr 18, 2011, 11:47 AM EDT

torresstareap AP

(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.

  1. Ryan Karhut - Apr 18, 2011 at 12:04 PM

    Here’s the video of the hit.

    CBC’s ‘The Head Hunter’ Starring Raffi Torres http://wp.me/p11EPk-wT

  2. derpdederpdederp - Apr 18, 2011 at 12:40 PM

    weve got to put responsibility for hits equally on the player getting hit and the one delivering it. seabrook had his head turned and was not paying attention to torres so he got popped. normally there would be no discussion about a good hard check in the playoffs, but unfortunately we live in an age of buzzwords like “concussions” and “rule 48″ where any time a player delivers a big hit we call for that player to be suspended. this is playoff hockey, time to let the guys play. hockey is a conatct sport and there is an inherent danger in any contact sport. there is no point suspending this guy in an effort to make the game “safer”, the only way to do that is to legislate hitting and fighting out of the game. i personally dont want to see that happen and hope most people share that view

    • raddave - Apr 18, 2011 at 1:09 PM

      Anyone that thinks “concussion” is only a buzzword, then that person has never suffered one. A player getting hit illegally is as responsible as the person doing the hitting? Seabrook had his head turned the opposite way of Torres because that was where the puck was coming from. The funny thing is, if Torres had just attempted to play the puck, no penalty would have been called. He CHOSE not to play the puck, but hit the player.

      • derpdederpdederp - Apr 18, 2011 at 2:13 PM

        this year it has become a buzzword, you cant watch a hockey game without hearing about concussions. there have always been concussions in hockey, they are nothing new, but the amount of the attention theyre getting is.

        you have a choice to play the puck or play the man, and torres chose to play the man. there is nothing wrong with that. the only problem was that the puck jumped over seabrooks stick and that resulted in the hit being interference. thats not torres’ fault though, had seabrook handled the puck it would have been a perfectly timed hit.

        if you go into an area where you know your likely to get popped and you have your head turned you are open to a hit and are responsible for what happens. seabrook knows that, he took the hit without complaining on or off the ice. you can expect players to shy away from throwing hits just because the guy theyre lining up has chosen to turn his head or put his head down

  3. UnderMyThumb - Apr 18, 2011 at 1:49 PM

    It wasn’t a “good hit” because it was clearly interference. It cost the Canucks a power play goal. Both this hit and the Eberle hit were bad timing on Torres’ part. Had Seabrook touched the puck it would have been a great hockey hit. Should he have made a split second decision to hug the boards and play the puck versus deliver the hit? Easy to judge with a replay, not so easy when you’re a highly skilled athlete caught up in the moment of a physical game. Seabrook took it like a hockey player – kudos for taking the high road and not following your coach or captain’s lead.

    • derpdederpdederp - Apr 18, 2011 at 2:07 PM

      it was only interference because the puck hopped over seabrooks stick. torres is trying to hit him as seabrook is about to touch the puck but unfortunately for him seabrook never got the puck and as a result the hit is interference. but it is by no means a dirty hit or a blind side cheap shot, good for the nhl for realizing that

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