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The NHL explains logic behind Raffi Torres non-suspension

Apr 18, 2011, 5:42 PM EDT

Raffi Torres, Brent Seabrook Getty Images

In case you haven’t heard, Vancouver Canucks forward Raffi Torres landed a thunderous (and controversial) hit on Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Brent Seabrook in Sunday’s Game 3 match. The NHL decided he wasn’t guilty of an infraction that was worthy of a fine or suspension, meaning that Torres was only really guilty of incredibly poor timing since he landed that hit on his first game back from a previous suspension.

(You can read my thoughts on the hit here, Joe’s take in this post and reactions from both teams in this article.)

Now that you’ve had a chance to digest the basics of the situation, we can move on to the NHL’s explanation for their decision. The common Twitter snark revolved around word that players get more leeway with hits behind the red line, but league disciplinarian Colin Campbell didn’t mention that in his statement on the matter.

“When Rule 48 (Illegal Check to the Head) was unanimously adopted by the General Managers in March 2010, there was no intention to make this type of shoulder hit to the head illegal. In fact, at that time, we distributed a video to all players and teams that showed a similar hit on a defenseman by an attacking forward coming from the opposite direction behind the net and stated that this is a ‘legal play’.

“This hit meets none of the criteria that would subject Torres to supplemental discipline, including an application of Rule 48: He did not charge his opponent or leave his feet to deliver this check. He did not deliver an elbow or extended forearm and this hit was not ‘late’.”

So this begs the question, particularly to those who thought Torres deserved to be suspended: is this a satisfactory explanation? If not, what else can the league do to curb these types of hits or at least make their process easier to understand? Let us know in the comments and check out one more clip of the hit below.

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  1. derpdederpdederp - Apr 18, 2011 at 7:00 PM

    pretty satisfactory explanation. why wasnt he suspended? because he didnt break any rules (besides getting an interference penalty), so there was no reason to suspend him. works for me

  2. johninpa - Apr 19, 2011 at 11:26 AM

    I can understand that he didn’t break the rule. I don’t understand why an elbow to the head is illegal, but a shoulder to the head is not. Aren’t both capable of causing injury? If the NHL is serious about preventing concussions, this needs to be considered.

  3. zeker1966 - Apr 19, 2011 at 12:06 PM

    I agree with “derpdederdederp” that the explanation is pretty straight forward. The point is that Torres did everything correctly to hit Seabrook.

    As for why elbows and not shoulders. The shoulder is considered if it is the principle point of contact with the head if the check is illegal. If Torres had raised his arm such that his elbow met with Seabrook’s head then this would have been illegal and Rule 48 may apply. A checker can move his elbow but he can not move his shoulder. As Torres is going into check Seabrook I don’t think his thought is that he wants to put his shoulder into his head. It just happened. I’m sure Torres was thinking I’m going to lay a big hit on him and hopefully get the puck. He miss timed it and got there slightly early.

  4. richo63 - Apr 19, 2011 at 3:54 PM

    This is crap! If they didn’t mean to put shoulder to head contacts as part of the suspenables, then how did Joe Thorton get suspended for his shoulder to head hit on Perron. “He did not charge his opponent or leave his feet to deliver this check. He did not deliver an elbow or extended forearm and this hit was not ‘late’.”
    Joe’s hit meets these requirements too! Why the suspension then. I’m calling BS.

    What a bunch of hypocrites and liars they have in the NHL. This is starting to turn into the NBA where refereeing are suspect and so inconsistant from each game to game.

    Gotta make sure Vancouver makes it to the finals to make sure a crappy Canadian team is present!!!! Screw the Front office in toronto!!!!

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