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Raffi Torres is now Public Enemy No. 1 with the media

Apr 18, 2012, 10:00 AM EDT

Raffi Torres Getty Images

After Raffi Torres crushed Marian Hossa with a brutal illegal check that went unpenalized while Hossa was sent to the hospital, the aftermath of that has created a firestorm within the media.

Torres’ checkered history of illegal hits, with most targeting the head, is well known. We’ve seen him scrutinized by the league three times this season already, getting fined once and suspended, as well as in last year’s playoffs and it appears everyone has about had it with him.

Mark Spector of Sportsnet calls Torres “hockey’s biggest punk” saying that Torres never learns from his misgivings and will only be out there to do it again in the future making yet another team regret signing him in the first place.

On Tuesday night Torres claimed the belt, as well as his latest victim, with a typically predatory hit on Hossa. It was like so many others by Torres, who floats from team to team to team, each one pleased that they’ve picked up “a game-changer,” then liking themselves even more when they part ways, deciding that their organization is better than that.

Meanwhile, both Damien Cox of the Toronto Star and Renaud Lavoie of RDS in Quebec (French) were quick to refer to Torres as the league’s new version of the old Matt Cooke. Not the reformed guy we’ve seen this year, but the guy who was suspended for 17-games last year.

The criticisms of Torres are harsh, but they’re also mostly spot on. If there’s anyone in the league meant to be a candidate to be forcefully educated by the league to clean up their game, the way Cooke was, it’s Torres. Question is: Will the league step in and do something along those lines?

  1. supafinger - Apr 18, 2012 at 10:07 AM

    Shanahan will be in a bind on this one. On one hand Torres is Canadian and plays for the NHL’s team. On the other hand he did this to an orignal 6 team.

    • govtminion - Apr 18, 2012 at 10:13 AM

      If you honestly believe any of that drivel, you need to change the tin-foil in your hat.

  2. themohel - Apr 18, 2012 at 10:14 AM

    Shanny’s got the yo-yo deal going on right now – too light, too heavy, too light, too heavy. There is not too heavy in this case; but as Toews said last night, nobody knows what to expect. By the way, no team, after his first, that hires Torres is at all surprised by what they get – that is a large part of the problem, nothing will happen to PHX for hiring such a player. Why not do it?

  3. comeonnowguys - Apr 18, 2012 at 10:14 AM

    Given all the factors:

    no puck
    left his skates
    targets the head head
    intent to injure
    actual injury (reports of a broken jaw) (which really shouldn’t be factored in, but still is)
    repeat offender

    Anything less than 7 basically cements the fact that the fix is in.

    I can’t believe they turned me into Hawk Harrelson. I have to go hate myself now.

    • themohel - Apr 18, 2012 at 10:21 AM

      Even if Torres is out for the series, PHX is happy about a Hossa for Torres swap. Until that calculus is at least balanced the league will continue to have these problems. Part of it is respect among the players and teams – basketball players have numerous opportunities to put star players out of the playoffs, but it rarely happens. Another part is the league (and teams) having a real desire to change the culture – see the NFL Saints bounty reaction. There is a lack of desire across the board to end this stuff.

    • polegojim - Apr 18, 2012 at 11:02 AM

      Yes sir… that pretty much sums it up.

      Facts are, what we’re seeing is some unintended consequences of ‘protecting players’.

      Modern protective gear…pads and guards…assure that players delivering hits are minimally affected.

      Go back the years of only sweaters and no helmets….and Torres never even considers launching that hit, because he’d pay for it equally….or worse. We’re seeing the same thing in the NFL.

      Launching and high speed hitting are now a tough part of both games because… they can be.

      • rpb1234 - Apr 18, 2012 at 11:41 AM

        I could not disagree more.

        An elbow or shoulder to the head will not be effected but the hitters pads. Also, it is a good thing that Zetterberg was wearing a helmet

      • polegojim - Apr 18, 2012 at 6:14 PM

        and…. you EXACTLY prove my point…. after disagreeing. If you’re going to disagree… please support your argument in the rest of your comment so I could at least respect it.

        I’m not saying players shouldn’t wear helmets and pads…. I’m saying that hitting has become more FIERCE because hitters feel more protected. That’s a fact.

        But… since you brought it up, do you think Wimpy Weber would’ve done his cowardly dirty deed if Hank didn’t have a helmet on? Not on your life.

        Lastly – I have no idea what the point of your first sentence is… Please use complete sentences so I will understand how to object and correct you!

  4. th86cj7 - Apr 18, 2012 at 10:18 AM

    In no shape or form am i condoning Torres for this or any of the bs he has pulled his entire career, and i am aware that he has gotten out of hand. It is going to baffle me and i would hope other hockey fans to see Torres get.the most games this postseason, when the worst of the worst, Neal, got one game. It is awful to see Hossa be he was and no one ever wants to see that, same hit as Neal on Schenn, except Hossa got significantly more hurt. Shanny has set a precedent here, had he come out yesterday and banned Neal say 4 or 5 games for the exactsame hit, PLUS taking a run at Giroux head from 100 feet away, i believe this never would have happened last.night. Instead now Torre who i think we all want out of the game is going to be gone and so will Hossa, its a loss for hockey fans everywhere. I do not think Torres meant to injure Hossa while Neal twice injure, but due to the lack of injury Shanny slaps him on the wrist, but Torres hit still was dirty. I am an objective fan of neither of these teams, my team is involved in another.series and i love good physical chippy hockey, but what Shanny and the nhl and a lot of posts on here are missing is intent to injure and dirtiness. Ive seen hockey for 40 years and physical hockey is great where guys police themselves like men, not run at eachother full speed to the head and turtle from fights.

    • themohel - Apr 18, 2012 at 10:26 AM

      I agree with you on Neal – it couldn’t be clearer that he wanted to seriously hurt someone. He should have a LONG seat on the bench. More evidence that the league does not really want to change behavior is a good player like Neal getting a slap on the wrist for this. If you really want to change the behavior of a group you send a message to one of its strongest members, a la Clint Eastwood going after Swede in Heartbreak Ridge. Banning Torres forever sends less of a message than banning Neal for the rest of the playoffs and five to start next year.

    • fruitsareedible - Apr 18, 2012 at 10:42 AM

      If you think a longer suspension for another player would have stopped Torres from delivering that hit, I have a bridge to sell you in Brooklyn. Torres isn’t a repeat offender, he’s a career offender. He takes dangerous runs at players well after they’ve released the puck regularly in the playoffs. If this was his first hit like that, I might believe you that a big suspension on another player would make him more aware of the situation, but suspensions even on himself don’t get the point across.

  5. supafinger - Apr 18, 2012 at 10:21 AM

    There is no doubt in my mind that Shanahan will get this one right. Maybe….. $5000 fine? Clearly this is slightly worse than bashing a guys head into the glass repeatedly but not nearly as bad as the vicious Backstrom cross check.

    • michiganhockey11 - Apr 18, 2012 at 10:48 AM

      Most they can be fined is $2,500 under current CBA. He would have to be suspended to lose more money than that.

    • johngaltx - Apr 18, 2012 at 6:40 PM

      Fines are capped per CBA at $2500.

  6. vshehane - Apr 18, 2012 at 10:22 AM

    Really? Nine stories on this?

  7. chucksname - Apr 18, 2012 at 10:23 AM

    The hit meets ALL the criteria in Rule 48. Torres is multiple repeat offender. And he embarrased the Gary Bettman on national TV in two countries since his refs missed an obvious major penalty.

    At some point NBC may have to tell him to clean up his league, since they are paying for much of it.

    Torres should get suspended 10 plus games, but recent discipline says its a crapshoot.

    If it was another franchise Phoenix might be fined, but I don’t see the NHL fining itself.

  8. michiganhockey11 - Apr 18, 2012 at 10:31 AM

    Based on how the first round has gone this year, they should just hand Matt Cooke the Lady Bing award right now.

    Hate to repeat this again, but the precendent was set with Weber’s head smash on Zetterberg.

    • buckeye044 - Apr 18, 2012 at 10:42 AM

      Guess you didnt see Zetterberg’s stick to the back of the knees on Weber thru those michigan glasses.
      He also should have been called on the carpet.

      • michiganhockey11 - Apr 18, 2012 at 10:58 AM

        I’m sure Shanny saw it. Guess he didn’t think much of it huh?

        How’s Urban treating your boys down there? (don’t let the name fool you, not really a uofm fan)

  9. mojosmagic - Apr 18, 2012 at 10:34 AM

    There is no place for a guy like Torres in the league. He should be banned for a year and then will see if he has reformed. An enforcer used to be a guy who dropped his gloves now it’s become a guy who cowardly targets heads and knees.

    • johngaltx - Apr 18, 2012 at 6:44 PM

      There is always a spot for guys like Torres in the NHL, they sit as the 17th. and 18th. forwards on the bench. They call them pluggers, energy guys and forth loners. Every team has them and they are there as a deterrent so the other teams pluggers don’t hurt your stars.

      Sounds good in theory….

  10. dropthepuckeh - Apr 18, 2012 at 10:38 AM

    I don’t believe the precedent was set with Weber’s fine – if you want to argue Shanahan got that one wrong then it makes much more sense. Since then we have had several suspensions including multiple games for Shaw and Asham (both deserved). If the Weber non-suspension had set any precedent I think it would mean that Shanahan was not dishing out suspensions anymore because things are in the same ballpark as the Weber incident. This isn’t the case so enough with that argument. I understand why some Red Wings might be upset and say that to lobby league and ref support but fans should see the fallacy.

    I think Torres should be suspended for the remainder of the playoffs regardless of how far the Coyotes go. He is a disgrace to hockey and I have a hard time believing anyone would miss him.

  11. rainyday56 - Apr 18, 2012 at 10:45 AM

    Y’know, if dogs were subjected to the punishment some players take on the ice in the name of sport, there’d be jail time for the principals involved. Just sayin’ . . .

  12. prolibertate85 - Apr 18, 2012 at 10:46 AM

    In my opinion, when Dustin Brown gets celebrated one night for his high late hit on Henrik Sedin, and Torres gets raked over the coals by every analyst for his marginally higher and later hit, the line is too fine to make sense of any more.

    We are talking about a matter of inches and fractions of a second, you cant tell me that on the ice, Brown was thinking “Im going to make a nice clean check here”, while Torres was thinking “im going to knock him the F out.”, both players went in with the intention of finishing their checks the way they were taught.

    But whatever, throw the book at Torres, but god help Shanahan if he tries to justify giving him more than Duncan Keith got.

    • kitshky - Apr 18, 2012 at 2:40 PM

      Im in no way defending Torres but you’re spot on. To hear people talk about this hit as if it’s the worst thing they’ve ever seen is ludicrous…its a high dirty hit thats a second or maybe two late.

      We are literally talking about fractions of seconds here that makes this worthy of bringing every outrage and hatred you have for Torres out. Again, not defending him but this irrational hysteria that occurs from one hit to another is ridiculous. If you’re upset about this to the point calling for an expulsion from the league get upset about every other dirty hit we’ve see because this is in now way the worst hit in the league in the last 30 days.

  13. balewsquare - Apr 18, 2012 at 10:54 AM

    The problem here is that the punishment doesn’t fit the crime. People respond to incentives. You think suspending a player 1 or 2 games will deter them from ever doing something similar again? Absolutely not. Isn’t that the purpose of supplementary discipline? It sounds outrageous now because we’re all used to smaller suspensions, but start suspending guys 20+ games. Threaten their income and livelihood. The victims of this hits are having their careers jeopardized, and not even by their own actions.

    Is this not the EXACT play the NHL doesn’t want? A oft-criticized “goonish” (he does have some skill) type player taking out one of the most widely respected, elite 2 way forwards in the game? After Hossa was stretchered off, that game had less skill on the ice with Torres still in play and Hossa gone. Is that what the NHL wants? To me, you want the Hossas, not the Torreses

    • balewsquare - Apr 18, 2012 at 11:02 AM

      Another example is Asham cross checking a rookie future star in the league. Asham, a tough guy, gets 4 games, the biggest of the playoffs, and that seems great. But why WOULDN’T he do this again? Asham is a bottom 6 and Schenn a top 6. PIT losing Asham doesn’t hurt them that much. No big deal. But, if he actually seriously injures Schenn? That’s a huge win for the Pens in loss of skill level. They’d take that trade off every time. If a guy on the street attacks you by cross checking you in the throat with a hockey stick, you’d want more severe punishment. I get that on the ice it’s different, it’s inherently a tough sport, but that, in no way, is a hockey play.

      • gallyhatch - Apr 18, 2012 at 11:32 AM

        I am adamantly against the resulting injury having an outcome on the supplemental discipline, as I think it will lead to people/teams embellishing injuries, or dragging their feet on releasing the information.
        However, if one team’s 4th line thug severely injures another teams 1st line star, I would have absolutely no problem with the offending organization getting a huge HUGE fine after the fact. Penalize the player for the action / intent, penalize the team for the resulting injury.

        You can bet that would motivate teams to preach cleaner play to their players.

      • johngaltx - Apr 18, 2012 at 6:49 PM

        Asham has never been suspended.

        Before the Asham hit Shenn flattened Martin into the boards, Martin will not play tonight.

        If the Pens were up 2-0 on Sunday and took an early lead, the Flyers would have been the ones running around nailing people. It is the way the first rounds play out year after year. Some of these teams have played each other 6 times by the time the playoffs start and the desire to beat and beat up the other guy is magnified greatly. As the winners get closer to the cup it all dies down. Happens every year.

    • balewsquare - Apr 18, 2012 at 11:53 AM

      I didn’t mean to promote penalizing the injury, I agree with you – one of the worst ideas out there. I said it before it was disgraceful to watch the refs in game 2 waiting to see how badly Mike Smith was hurt before giving Shaw a penalty. That was embarrassing as a hockey fan. But yes, teams should also be penalized. It can change…kudos to Matt Cooke (who I hated, but now have to respect at least a little) for cleaning up his game a bit this year and having a successful season.

      • gallyhatch - Apr 18, 2012 at 12:08 PM

        I think we are on the same page here.
        I was at the game in Phoenix on Saturday, and that was ridiculous to watch them watching Smith. Then Monday night, Brad Marchand was clearly trying to sell a hit he took as causing injury to draw a 5 minute major. I’m a Bruins fan and I am disgusted with him or anyone else diving or playing up an injury. It’s weasly / rat type behavior and I want it out of the game.

        Also, I never thought I would say it as a Bruins fan, but yeah. Matt Cooke seems to have learned his lesson(s). I still hate him for taking out Savard, but he has cleaned it up. I guess some guys can learn / change.

      • habsman - Apr 18, 2012 at 4:15 PM

        Yes, but you have to admit that the number of “biting” incidents have been greatly reduced since Savard has been gone.

  14. solador78 - Apr 18, 2012 at 10:56 AM

    Funny how Bertuzzi got 2 minutes last night for the exact same hit and no one noticed because the victim didn’t leave on a stretcher.

    It’s easy to use Torres as a scapegoat for the debacle that is this year’s playoffs, but his suspension will not act as a deterrent to the rest of the league, because no one else has the same reputation as he does. That’s the only reason his suspension will be longer than a game or two.

    If you play for a team who’s owner is Chairman of the NHL Board, there’s still a pretty good chance that you won’t be suspended for attempting to murder someone with a stanchion.

    Ratings are up, so that when someone finally dies from a “borderline hockey play” where a player was just “finishing his check” everyone will have seen it.

    And then never watch hockey again. Great plan NBC.

    • balewsquare - Apr 18, 2012 at 11:55 AM

      I didn’t see the DET/NSH game last night…who did he hit so I could youtube it?

  15. raoool - Apr 18, 2012 at 11:01 AM

    Whatever they’re paying Shanahan – it’s too much.

    Given the consistency of these ‘disciplinary actions’, they’d get the same results setting up a dartboard – one game, small fine, big fine, 4 games, etc. – and letting luck decide. Of course Bettman will insist on 3 darts and direct the least penalty for the Neals and Webers of the world (aka stars someone might pay to see) and – in the interest of ‘fair and balanced’ – assign the harshest penalty to the Ashams and Hagelins.

    What a friggin joke.

    • balewsquare - Apr 18, 2012 at 11:03 AM

      Only the NHL could mess up the dart board system! :)

  16. rtrmusic - Apr 18, 2012 at 11:03 AM

    Anytime Shanahan walks into a room they start playing porno music, because you know somebody is about to get f***ked

  17. BurkieInBoston - Apr 18, 2012 at 11:20 AM

    You can take Torres away from the Canucks, but you can’t take the Canuck out of Torres. Here’s how to deal with scumbags like Torres:

    • ras1tafari - Apr 18, 2012 at 12:20 PM

      Torres is, and always has been a p—y, piece of s–t player. I love watching McQuaid pound that ugly f–king face of his.

      If the NHL is serious about discipline and player safety, then Torres should be one of the first to go, as in out of the NHL.

  18. dropthepuckeh - Apr 18, 2012 at 11:38 AM

    “If you play for a team who’s owner is Chairman of the NHL Board, there’s still a pretty good chance that you won’t be suspended for attempting to murder someone with a stanchion.” solador78 – Apr 18, 2012 at 10:56 AM

    Haha – do you really think he was trying to murder him with a stanchion?? Don’t you think Chara would have far easier ways to kill someone beginning with his fists? It was certainly an unfortunate incident but clearly not deliberate. If your city spent a fraction of the time padding the stanchion that they spent crying and dialing 911, murder attempt avoided and Maxy would’ve been fine. I’m pretty sure everyone who played on that rink was subjected to the same atrocity of the murderous stanchion but leave it to Chara to master the weaponry and apply it at the perfect time!

    • solador78 - Apr 18, 2012 at 3:00 PM

      Lots of people like Don Cherry believe that Chara had intent.

      There was motive and a possible bounty after Pacioretty’s crosscheck. And circumstantial evidence like Chara’s blatant lies that he jumped into the stanchion, missing part of round 1 in Mtl due to stress and the fact that he never turned around after the hit, is all pretty compelling.

  19. freebie717 - Apr 18, 2012 at 11:57 AM

    Maybe I’m missing something but, outside of the fact that Hossa went to the hospital and Couterier was able to keep playing, how was Raffi Torres’ hit any different than James Neal’s? It looks like they both come in late (Neal actually comes in later than Torres), they both jump, they both make contact with the head, they both had the same intention of leveling the other guy…

    Is the outcome of the hit the only reason that Torres will most likely get a longer suspension?

    • balewsquare - Apr 18, 2012 at 1:44 PM

      I’m a Hawks fan, and you’re right, as far as dirty hits go, those 2 are extremely similar. The main differences to me were that Torres’s hit came with more force and made more head contact, while Neal’s hit wasn’t even remotely close to finishing a check – blatant interference. Those are the differences in my opinion. First thing I did after the game was see how many games Neal got. Shanahan’s .5 system or whatever the heck that was was not just punishment. Neal’s actions have no place in the game.

      Eddie Olczyk said Torres should get a minimum of 10 games. I don’t disagree with that, but Neal should too. That’s how I think it should be, but Shanahan just can’t seem to hit the lower right part of the dart board, so I don’t think that’s happening. Maybe he keeps targeting that Triple 20 and comes away with that dreaded 1. Blast!

  20. mehetmet - Apr 18, 2012 at 12:15 PM

    torres should just say he was trying to avoid contact, it worked for Neal!!!

  21. bhwksr1 - Apr 18, 2012 at 12:33 PM

    It’s obvious Torres should be out for a long time. Don’t care to debate that and really there should be no debate except how bad shanahan will mess this up. What came to my mind is that it was Youngblood versus who ever that other guy was in the movie and at the end of the series Hossa would be Youngblood and beat the crap out of Torres. But this time, there would he a line if many players from many teams. You could see the guilt on torres’ face when he was on the bench, where he should not have been in the first place. Hope Hossa will be able to return at some point, and that hit significantly hurts the hawks overall. Too bad there is no way to even this up other than on the ice.

  22. drewsylvania - Apr 18, 2012 at 12:43 PM

    The last time someone got hit in the head because their head was down, we all lambasted the guy for skating with his head down. Why should this one be much different? Torres came in a little bit late, but not much (many, many clean hits in these playoffs have been delivered with the timing Torres used). Yes, he left his feet, but only slightly. Now, with his history, you could get him on attempt to injure, and I wouldn’t really disagree. But I just don’t understand how this hit is so much worse than what Carkner or Neal have done. If Hossa had his head up, we wouldn’t even be talking about it.

  23. dougyfresh9981 - Apr 18, 2012 at 1:00 PM

    Terrible what happened to Hossa and hopefully he’s ok, but I don’t see how Torres can get more games than Asham. Torres was trying to make a hockey play, although late and high. Asham cross checks a guy in the throat and then punches him when he’s laying on the ice injured all in retaliation with the puck nowhere near Schenn. Torres should absolutely be suspended but Shanahan will have it wrong if Torres gets more than Asham.

    • balewsquare - Apr 18, 2012 at 1:36 PM

      As I sort of alluded to this in my posts above: I don’t think Shanahan would have it wrong for Torres to get 4 or more games. Actually, anything less than 4 will cause an uproar seeing as how Shaw got 3. Anyway, I do think that Torres should get more than what Asham got, but I also feel that Asham should have received more than he did…if that makes sense. Not saying Torres’s hit is worse, but it does deserve more than 4, as does Asham’s. There we go. That made sense.

  24. kingjoe1 - Apr 18, 2012 at 1:18 PM

    Please, every other game their are hits like this, but everyone is reacting to the results. So Hossa a huge P; doesn’t mean Torres is suddenly a monster. His actions were no worse than Neal going after TWO players. Torres with his history should get no more than 2 games, and then only because of the pressure on BS to do something, because a stretcher was involved.

    • hystoracle - Apr 18, 2012 at 1:43 PM

      It’s going to be more than 2 games you can bank on that… Torres is a punk -player like Matt Cooke was before he got to sit out the playoffs last year. I would give Torres the same punishment, because of his history of dirty play. Perfect guy to use to send a message.

      Shanahan has had to deal with something after every night of play. HE is trying not to punish a team too severely with suspensions. I say do the reverse. if it is 3 game penalty in the reg season it should be a 3 game penalty now. And if you team gets eliminated before your suspension is over you sit the first few games of next season for what ever is left.

      2nd thing would be to get some better officials… There was no penalty called on this hit – completely missed. Charging has become a lost call in the NHL. They use to call it more often.. Start calling the charging and some of this can be mitigated. In the past couple weeks, the NHL officials have missed everything from obvious calls against the guy with the puck to a puck carrier being stripped of the puck from a guy siting on the bench. If they had sent Neal to the room the donnybrook at the end of the philly-pens game would never of happened and Adams would be playing tonight.

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