25 Games For Raffi Torres

The NHL has suspended Raffi Torres for 25 games as a result of his hit on Marian Hossa.

Ryan Batty, a writer for Copper & Blue, tweeted the following comment, which neatly encapsulated my own initial reaction:

25 games for Torres. Wow. If this is the NHL taking discipline serious great, if this is the NHL using him as a scapegoat not so great.

That’s the thing. I have no objection to a 25-game suspension for the type of hit that Torres threw, given the player’s track record and the injury sustained – if that’s the standard for players across the league. If Brendan Shanahan has decided that strict enforcement of this sort of hit is the way to go, I think that’s an entirely defensible position and one that will help reduce concussions around the league.

If, however, this is simply a one-time suspension to throw a bone to people concerned about concussions, it’s more difficult to justify. The NHL – even under Shanahan – has not enforced a consistent standard for these sorts of hits. Raffi Torres has a long track record of iffy hits, hammered a star player in a major market, is not a star player himself, plays in the NHL’s most insignificant market, and was roundly vilified by fans and the press prior to this suspension being announced. In short, he’s the perfect target for a massive suspension.

My hope is that this is the start of a more consistently vigilant Department of Player Safety. My fear is that the NHL’s hammering an easy target and will instead slink away when something else – say, Milan Lucic running Ryan Miller, or Shea Weber grabbing Henrik Zetterberg’s head and smashing it into the glass, or one of a hundred other things – happens. As it is, this is a hard suspension to reconcile with the NHL’s previous decisions. That doesn’t make it the wrong decision, unless it remains hard to reconcile with future decisions.

I strongly suspect that this is a one-off.  If it is, then the NHL made the wrong call.

  • 24% body fat

    SO this is part of a repeat offender thing. Good. These douches need to be out of the league or need to attend the Matt Cooke school of career turnarounds (cant believe I just propped Matt Cooke).

    Anyways if this is what repeat offenders get good. Problem is though it kinda seems like everyone gets a freebee.

    Also not saying what weber did was not intent to injure or saying its acceptable. But these two players were in a scrum and not traveling at 20 mph each. Zetterberg was not in a super vulnerable position. And all honesty I would rather have my head pushed into the boards when I have some resistance to it and the means to fight back while wearing a helmet than take a cross check in the back when i dont see it coming or have protection there.

    Why are these not suspensions.

  • SteadyEd

    My point about assessing the consequence of an infraction was that a garden variety cross-check should be 2min. regardless of whether the player that got checked is injured or not. By the same token a cross-check that is deemed to have “intention” should be 5 min. Again, it shouldn’t matter if the player that is checked is injured. It should be the action that is called not the effect. A minor is a minor and a major is a major and referees should feel free to make that judgement on the ice. The leagues job should be to uphold the referees decision.

    Take the ‘drawing-blood’ 4 min. high-sticking call for instance. It’s silly. The same accident gets called two different ways because the player that is high-sticked has thin skin. Having to go over and peer up someones nose or in their mouth to make a call diminishes the job of the referee.
    A minor for an accident. A minor + a 10min. misconduct for carelessness. A major is for intent. Empower the refs and they (and the rules that they represent) will be respected.

  • Rob...

    ~I hear it was only going to be 12 games, but they took into account his Halloween costume from last year and decided to go double +1.~

    As easy as it is to blame Torres for continuing to play ‘that way’, I don’t know if I’d expect anything more from Raffi. The guy has been told since 2006 that it was his hit on Michalek that was the playoff changer for the Oilers. He has been trying to recapture that level of notoriety ever since.

  • SteadyEd

    Does Weber have priors? If yes, than the NHL made a grave mistake. If no, than in my opinion the best consequence would have been a 2 game suspension and a $100 000 fine. (I know it wasn’t an option)

  • DCR

    Given his history, I don’t have a problem with Torres getting 25 games. It’s more than I expected (10-15 games) but I can see why it was assessed.

    As with many others, I am more concerned with consistency and the probability of this being scapegoating more than anything.

    Even considering Raffi’s history, this wasn’t five times as bad as Duncan Keith’s hit. So either Raffi got too many or Duncan got too few. As for the Shea Weber incident – I think the intent to injure there was much worse and he got fined approximately three-one-hundredths of one percent of his annual salary.

    To put that in perspective – Shea Weber’s fine was the equivalent of a FIVE-DOLLAR fine to someone working full time at the US Federal minimum wage of $7.25/hr.

    Think about that.

  • DCR

    I’m fine with the 25 game suspension- Torres needed to be sent a message. This is not a ‘new standard’ for those that deliver head shots, it’s just what had to be done to get through to a dangerous, repeat offender. Torres was entering Chris Simon territory.

    I do think that the NHL needs to be much more consistent From the preseason through to the last game of the SCF. Why doesn’t the NHL just lay out a framework for suspensions much like MLB does with steroid use. For example:

    First violation: x game suspension
    Second violation: 2x game suspension
    Third violation: 5x game suspension

    I realize there are other variables involved with these on-ice incidents, but having a framework in place would make it clear to the players what kind of suspension they can expect from delivering a headshot.

  • Derzie

    NHL discipline is a complete and utter farce once again. Park your Torres hatred at the door, this did NOT warrant 25 games. Repeat offender or not. This call basically guarantees that there will be a work stoppage this fall. What a mess.

  • D

    I would just like to throw this out there as something I’m pretty sure the NHL considers when handing out suspensions: one of the reasons why there may appear to be disparate enforcement is that these actions cross into the realm of labour law. While I am sure the collective bargaining agreement (which I have not carefully examined) has provisions that override certain areas of labour law, at the end of the day, the NHL has to deal with the laws of every state in which they conduct business. For example, in California, employee rights are closer to those of say, Europe than those of other U.S. states. If the incident happened in California, with a California team, maybe the NHL has to take a different approach than with an incident that happened in Illinois, with an Arizona team. No matter which way you cut it, the Torres situation boils down to a labour issue. The NHL has taken away Torres’ opportunity to provide labour and earn an income.

    I guarantee that the NHL has a team of lawyers working behind the scenes advising Mr. Shanahan on every player who appears before him. One of the questions the lawyers likely advise the league upon is “what is the probability that a suspension could be overturned in court?” That would be a worse outcome from a business standpoint than handing out a suspension that may appear too lenient. The minute the NHL loses its unfettered right to discipline players, it loses a major area of control with relation to its employees. But if the NHL has that power, it must be judicious in the exercise of that power; otherwise it will lose that power. In the case of Torres, the NHL may feel that there is little risk of a 25 game suspension being overturned, even though the Torres infraction may have been very similar to that of other players who received a substantially smaller suspension.

  • Dutchscooter

    What hasn’t been mentioned is that 25 games is exactly the number of games Phoenix would have if they made it to Game 7 of the Cup Finals. So, Torres got suspended, essentially, for the remainder of the playoffs no matter how far the ‘Yotes get.

    That’s it.

    Don’t read too much into what is not there.

  • Dutchscooter

    I agree that Torres is a predatory player but, regardless of how many times he’s been disciplined, or the length of his suspension, Torres will not change his style. I’m sure he’s pissed off with his suspension and will not think he was given a fair sentence. I think he will probably compare the way he was handled to the way others have been handled, and believe he came out on the worse end of the stick. If Raffe didn’t get a suspension, and if the Coyotes continue into the playoffs, Raffe would continue trying to take players out of the game, because that’s what predators do. I think that his suspension was the right call only because Torres is a repeat offender and still doesn’t seem like he is willing to conform, however there needs to be a written list of automatic consequences as to what to expect for particular infractions.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    They’re obviously making an effort to make this a kinder gentler game so they can soon have women playing the NHL.

    25 games for that! what a farce.

  • cableguy - 2nd Tier Fan

    Reactive not Proactive. Torres can go home and pack his bags and hit the golf courses early this year. He has 1 year left on his contract. The Yotes move to QC this summer will see an end to Raffi Torres affiliation with this franchise. For those of you who believe that some idiot is going to come along and buy the Yotes for 80 million dollars think again. The NHL needs to get its money back on this dog and the best move it could make would to move this team lock stock and barrel to Le Colisse for the next 2 years. Handing over the keys to Quebecor will ensure a return on the NHL’s investment and more money to the league in the next 5 years.Goodbye Raffi. It was nice knowin ya.

  • Travis Dakin

    April 21, 2012:

    The day hitting died in the NHL

    Great day for the danglers. On the plus side, I guess I feel less worried about the small Oilers getting hurt now.

  • Travis Dakin

    They finally cracked down on Cooke and he learned his lesson. They let Raffi’s garbage go for too long and he just kept doing it. Whether or not he changes his style will depend on the leadership in the Coyotes’ organization as Cooke had leaders like Lemieux sitting him down and making him see the light.

    Hitting is not dead. Why do you need to jump to hit somebody? Hossa should be more careful the next time that he thinks about cutting back against the grain but a solid clean hit would have done the trick. It’s not like Hossa is 5’8 or anything. He’s 6’1.

    This suspension was too easy for the NHL to make. I think it was the right call but I still don’t know how smashing somebody’s face into the boards for no reason after the game is over and your team won is not worthy of a suspension. Double standard for stars and scapegoats.

  • BobB

    Until they start dishing out suspensions like this on a regular basis for hit equally as cheap and dirty, nothing will change.

    This league is gutless except when it comes time to throw the book at a nobody.

  • NuckfiSh

    Idono if it’s been said or not, but this stinks of ‘political’ corruption to me…

    the Coyotes don’t have an owner. Raffi Torres doesn’t have an owner to have his back…

    In most cities, like Chicago, Boston, or even Nashville, when a player does something wrong there is a powerful owner or ownership group behind the scene pulling strings to get a lighter sentence. In this case, Raffi’s ass is owned by the NHL, and thus he has nobody to go to bat for him at NHL head-office… The very people who cut his paycheck, are the ones suspending him, and I think it stinks.

  • Bucknuck

    The number 25 is so that he doesn’t play anymore in the playoffs no matter what. If the series goes seven that’s four more games, and if they go seven in three more series that is 21.

    21+4 = 25. They just don’t want him to play anymore playoff hockey this year.

    It’s not a random number.

  • Oilers4ever

    Disagree on it being the wrong call… Raffi has always been in my mind a dirty player who has never received proper punishment for his actions… I never liked him as an Oiler and I don’t care for his hockey style now. Say what you want about having players on your team that the opposition loves to hate because you do need to have those agitators. But if they can’t play clean and they make dirty, intentional hits to injure, which this hit was, then there is no place for that type of player in this league. If 25 games doesn’t get to his head then nothing will. And if does something like that again after this suspension then ban the bum for life….

  • The decision reeks of overreaction PR move. Torres gets more punishment than the average aggravated assault convict in the Canadian criminal justice system. Funny how the globe is commenting on many Nucks players stating that the punishment is too severe but the Hawk players are all over Torres. Not saying Torres is Mama Angel but you know behind closed doors the NHL brass is loving all the hitting and the headhunting and the high ratings but superficially this calms all those bleeding heart pacifists.

  • Reg Dunlop

    What was the difference between Torres and Neil on Boyle? I don’t see much difference, honestly both hits were brutal but playoff hockey can be brutal. Neither hit should be suspension fodder. Fines at the most.

  • Willi P

    Many are bringing up the Weber incident on Z. I agree that this was a suspendable hit, however I don’t think many saw what happened before Weber went nuts. Z tried and partially succeeded in a head shot on Weber. He reacted and I think that was why he was not suspended. I didn’t hear the Shanny report but would guess that Z’s actions before hand had a part to play. Same goes with the Keith hit on Sedin. In both cases, if you go after somebody’s head and it is not called, what is a player supposed to do? Seems to me that Shanny is looking at the whole picture, at least in those two cases.

    As for Torres, he should have received a major suspension in last years’ playoff. He received nothing. He was due and if I am Shanny, I tell this clown, one more hit to the head, it’s a year off (or more)

    • DCR

      I see your point, I just don’t agree with it.

      I was watching the Nashville/Detroit game and I really don’t think Z’s actions justify Weber’s even if they might explain them. Suspension isn’t, or at least shouldn’t be, a zero-sum game.

      As for Daniel Sedin’s hit on Duncan Keith, I’ve watched that one a lot of times, because it has been brought up so often and I just don’t see it. Yes, Daniel’s shoulder hit Duncan’s head: but it wasn’t the target or primary point of contact. It was also part of the play at the time.

      Duncan Keith’s hit on Daniel deliberately targeted the head, wasn’t part of the play, and if anything was revenge, not reaction. Big difference.

      The best you can say for Shanahan is that he’s failing to provide the appearance of consistency.

  • Where are all the suspensions that the Canucks have gotten away with. Edler, Burrows, Kesler, Weiss, Salo, etc. Refs have given Nuck players Game Misconducts and 5 minute majors, yet not once did they receive SD.