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Raffi Torres won’t face fine or suspension for Brent Seabrook hit

Apr 18, 2011, 1:31 PM EDT

Raffi Torres, Brent Seabrook AP

Wherever you stand on the issue, the NHL made its decision regarding Vancouver Canucks forward Raffi Torres‘ hit on Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Brent Seabrook. TSN’s Bob McKenzie passes along a report from Darren Dreger that the league will not provide supplementary discipline for the hit.

In other words, Torres will not face a fine or a suspension for the incident, meaning he will be on the same sheet of ice as Seabrook for at least one more game.

When discussing the hit, I thought the league should suspend him for five games while Joe said he wouldn’t be surprised if nothing ended up happening. He rightly points out that the area behind the red line is given more leeway than other parts of the ice surface and I’ll admit that it wasn’t an especially egregious hit.

That being said, the league handed out a four-game suspension (including two playoff games) when Torres landed a nearly-identical hit on Jordan Eberle that occurred just a stride or two away from the red line itself. My problem isn’t with the overall decision, but rather the lack of much (if any) consistency or clarity in the league’s policies. Would the league have given Torres a pass if he hit Eberle a few feet lower in the Edmonton Oilers’ zone? Was this an example of a blindside hit or not?

This decision making process is about as clear and coherent as the plot of a David Lynch movie at this point. We polled PHT readers regarding what the league should do about the situation; here are the results:

(click to enlarge)

Ultimately, it’s best to break down the factions into “pro-suspension” (about 65 percent) and “anti-suspension” (approximately 35 percent) groups. As you can see, it seems like the greatest numbers were in the extremes. Readers either wanted nothing to be done (almost 30 percent) or they wanted a significant suspension for Torres (a bit more than 36 percent).

There will probably be some Blackhawks fans who are downright angry over the ruling, but I think most feel the same way I do: bewildered. Hopefully the NHL will do a better job of providing some clarity regarding the decision making process next season. If not, the “Wheel of Justice” jokes will continue to spin unabated.

If you want to watch the video clip one more time, here it is.

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  1. musingmaryann - Apr 18, 2011 at 1:46 PM

    Should there have been suspension, fines, etc.? You bet but I knew there wouldn’t be. Only the NHL knows the real reason which has everything to do with back-door politics and nepotisms at the highest levels of the administrative arm of the league.

    So the whole “we’re serious about head shots” line is just that – a line. Just some PR stunt to get some press that they are doing something when in reality they aren’t. Torres applies the exact same hit that he just got off suspension for and there is no message to him?

    Colin Campbell needs to go!

  2. derpdederpdederp - Apr 18, 2011 at 1:52 PM

    for once the nhl got something right (actually this is the 2nd time this year, the 1st being the chara decision). its sad that the majority of people wanted to see torres suspended for this hard legal hit. granted there is a lot of inconsistency when it comes to supplementary discipline, but this was the right decision. if you ask me the eberle hit was a borderline one too as eberle was leaning down to get the puck and put himself in a vulnerable position. i think 2 games wouldve been more appropriate for that one

  3. ballroller - Apr 18, 2011 at 2:52 PM

    There is absolutely no reason for a fine or suspension. Should not even have been a penalty. Seabrook was looking the wrong way and skating behind the net. If his head would have been up and looking in the direction that he was skating, this would have been a non-issue. No elbows were thrown, and the hit was clean and hard-it’s hockey not tiddlywinks.

    • windowsurfer - Apr 18, 2011 at 3:18 PM

      Agree w ballroller. Raffi’s options: him him like he did, skate around him (giving up the puck), or put on the brakes and soften the blow. A player from years ago, especially one without a helmet, would have instinctively had his lead elbow up around his head as he looked down to see the puck. He would have felt vulnerable and protected his head.

    • rrussell1967 - Apr 18, 2011 at 5:13 PM

      I will admit that I am surprised but only because of the suspension Stoll got in the Kings-Sharks series for what was nothing worse than this hit. Had Seabrook left the game, would the NHL have suspended Torres? That is the only reason I can see why Stoll got suspended; White got hurt.

  4. UnderMyThumb - Apr 18, 2011 at 3:40 PM

    Is the league inconsistent when it comes to evaluating these hits? Absolutely. Did they get this one right? Absolutely. They got it right and the refs got it right on the ice as it WAS interference (because of split-second timing only) and nothing else. And to Keith Jones – nice emotionally charged personal attack of one of your peers on national television – real classy, very professional. If you can’t take a solid hit you shouldn’t be on the ice or offering hockey commentary of any kind for that matter!

  5. luvhockey - Apr 18, 2011 at 3:55 PM

    That was definitely a hit that deserved a big suspension. If the league is trying to control hits to the head, this is clear example of violation of rule 48. Hit to the head, no possession of the puck, leaving the ice and stick off the ice. Pick one. Torres did them all. The only reason this one was not punished properly is that the victim did not get carried out on a stretcher. As all the postgame analysis on NHL said, it should have been double the Eberle suspension. I enjoy good checking, but clean checking. This was head hunting.

    • derpdederpdederp - Apr 18, 2011 at 4:04 PM

      not sure whose analysis you were listening to. guys on TSN seemed to not think this was so serious. staois said torres did nothing wrong, mackenzie said this was in the gray are of rule 48, and none of them seemed to think it would result in a big suspension. if you think this was an example of head hunting in think you should probably watch the play a few more times. torres had him lined up, seabrook had his head turned looking for the puck, and the puck jumped over his stick right as the hit came. if not for the puck jumping over seabrooks stick this wouldnt have even been interference. why would the nhl suspend a guy for a hit that was at worst interference when it was called as such on the ice?

      • luvhockey - Apr 18, 2011 at 4:23 PM

        NHL on the Fly, NHL Postgame, all the analysis on Versus and NHLNet immediately following the game called for a big suspension.There were 6 different analysts on the 2 shows calling for big suspensions. Replays did show Torres lining Seabrook up from the corner until he nailed him behind the net. Seabrook was watching the play in the opposite corner. The puck was circling towards him behind the net but Torres took him out long before it came near Seabrook. The puck kept on sliding unimpeded, untouched past Seabrook AFTER Torres took him out HIGH to the head, off his feet, stick off the ice and before the puck arrived. Torres made no effort to go for the puck. At the very least, it was interference call which was called, but flying off his feet to Seabrook’s head was a major and a suspension. It wasn’t an elbow but a shoulder to the side of the head. Watch Torre’s hit on Eberle. As the tv analysts showed and commented, it was a duplicate hit. Torres got 4 games for that one. Only difference was Eberle didn’t get up. Seabrook managed to get up after being dazed. Reportedly today Seabrook is still having a buzz in his ears. BH should have sent him to quiet room etc. The only reason this wasn’t a major at the time was that Seabrook eventually got up and played. Bad, bad, bad call. Looks like a political call to not touch the Cinderella team and let the Nucks have their dream year. BTW, Torres went after Seabrook hard severalf minutes later, only this time he went for the body and not the head. Really bad message from behind the Vancouver bench. Nucks suck. I’ll root for anyone else but them now.

      • derpdederpdederp - Apr 18, 2011 at 5:15 PM

        based on that comment youre just taking these opinions and passing them off as your own, only a bit more extreme. thats why i dont watch those shows, the guys on tsn and cbc actually know what theyre talking about. torres did none of the dirty stuff you suggested, he simply chose to play the man instead of the puck and he caught seabrook looking the other way. if not for the puck bouncing over seabrooks stick, which torres couldnt have anticipated, it would have been a perfectly clean hit. not even interference. if you take your own advice and watch the hit on eberle, youll see torres has him lined up and eberle puts his head down and leans for the puck. its eberle who put his head down and made himself overly vulnerable, so i think 4 games was a little much for that one. gotta keep your head up

      • luvhockey - Apr 18, 2011 at 7:33 PM

        The 6 analysts I watched say Torres should be suspended were all former players and coaches, not talking heads. I’d take their inside knowledge over yours I believe.

      • derpdederpdederp - Apr 18, 2011 at 7:47 PM

        the guys on tsn and cbc were of a different, more reasonable opinion. ill take their word over anyones. versus is a second-rate network at best, im sure their analysts are as well. besides it doesnt matter what they said about torres getting suspended, since it didnt happen their opinion is meaningless

  6. Chris Ross - Apr 18, 2011 at 4:39 PM

    I can’t believe Torres wasn’t suspended considering his reputation and the fact that he didn’t even make it one game without doing something reckless. It is questionable of whether there is intent to injure considering he kept his elbow in but he hit his head and there shouldn’t be any excuse for that. You have to be more careful. It’s still a penalty if it’s an accident and this is a guy who is a repeat offender. The NHL is just once again opening the door for more stuff like this to happen so people better start getting ready for more head injuries and discussions.

    http://chrisross91.wordpress.com/2011/04/17/throw-the-book-at-torres/

    • derpdederpdederp - Apr 18, 2011 at 5:17 PM

      reputation? if he hadnt hit eberle a few weeks ago nobody would be talking about his reputation. there was no intenet to injure and nothing dirty about the hit. if you play a contact sport then you are gonna get knocked in the head once in a while, so we cant suspend a guy every time he throws an otherwise clean check and catches the guys head by accident. this was a good hard playoff hockey play by torres and im glad the nhl recognized it as such

  7. balewsquare - Apr 18, 2011 at 5:31 PM

    To me, this hit should be suspendable. To the NHL, it’s in a very gray area of their rule 48. The enforcement video (which I posted on the original “should Torres be suspended” article) includes a similar hit that the NHL deems to be clean, so I figured there would be no suspension. I’m all for big hits, I’m just worried that in the future, forecheckers can make this play regularly. I think it will lead to unnecessary injuries. The biggest issue I feel is not being addressed is that this massive hit came when Seabrook never had the puck.

  8. johngaltx - Apr 18, 2011 at 5:33 PM

    Think about it this way, it might be worse for Mr. Torres to play in the game and take the old school, back-alley punishment this year than have to wait until next year when the Hawks meet up with the Canucks again. I am sure the passions will be a bit higher, especially if the Canucks get ahead by three or more goals. So, in the twisted logic of the NHL, not suspending Raffie is the punishment.

    • balewsquare - Apr 18, 2011 at 5:37 PM

      Except the Blackhawks have nobody to punish him. The team is quick and small. Except for Scott, who’s so slow he couldn’t catch Torres to punish him anyway.

  9. balewsquare - Apr 18, 2011 at 5:35 PM

    The other thing that bothers me is I feel that, with a Seabrook injury, Torres gets suspended. Which is stupid.

    • johngaltx - Apr 18, 2011 at 6:37 PM

      I have a sneaking suspicion that management has informed players to try and get up quickly, act normal, and get to the bench; as Seabrook did, to avoid being sent to the “Quiet Room” until the period ends at least. The sight of Seabrook on the bench flexing his jaw and shaking the cob-webs out looked like he should have been sent off. Torres also cracked him again later in the game and I recall the announcers saying he was not on the bench. This echoes the hits on Crosby, with him staying in the WC and then playing four days later, and getting stuffed head first into the boards. We all know how that has turned out. As long as it is left to the discretion of team officials and doctors, the Quiet Room is just more lip service from the NHL concerning potential and actual head injuries.

  10. ccous - Apr 19, 2011 at 12:31 PM

    pretty simple one here- seabrook needs to pick his head up

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