TOP 100 OILERS: RAFFI TORRES (79)

I met Raffi Torres for the first time at the 2000 NHL Entry Draft in Calgary. Like many of the young men who filed into the room to meet reporters that day, the likes of Rick DiPietro, Dany Heatley and Scott Hartnell, Torres was nervous, dutifully answering the same old questions as best he could.

Unlike those other young men, Torres, who would be taken fifth overall by the New York Islanders the next day, had the most intense and intimidating stare I’ve ever seen. Disconcerting, it was. I had no idea then I was meeting a future member of the Edmonton Oilers and a player who has gone on to fund the Players’ Emergency Assistance Fund to the tune of almost $700,000 (so far) with his on-ice acts of mayhem.

Raffi Torres #14

NUMBER:

13

BIRTHDATE:

October 8, 1981  (AGE 34)

HEIGHT:

6′ 0″

BIRTHPLACE:

Toronto, ON, Canada

WEIGHT:

215

DRAFTED:

NYI / 2000 NHL Entry Draft

SHOOTS:

Left

ROUND:

1st   (5th overall)

BY THE NUMBERS

SEASON

TEAM

GP

G

A

P

+/-

PIM

S

S%

2001-02

ISLANDERS

14

0

1

1

2

6

9

0.0

2001-02

BRIDGEPORT SOUND TIGERS-AHL

59

20

10

30

-5

45

2002-03

ISLANDERS

17

0

5

5

0

10

12

0.0

2002-03

BRIDGEPORT SOUND TIGERS-AHL

49

17

15

32

6

54

123

13.8

2002-03

HAMILTON BULLDOGS-AHL

11

1

7

8

-3

14

24

4.2

2003-04

OILERS

80

20

14

34

12

65

136

14.7

2004-05

EDMONTON ROADRUNNERS-AHL

67

21

25

46

4

165

2005-06

OILERS

82

27

14

41

4

50

164

16.5

2006-07

OILERS

82

15

19

34

-7

88

154

9.7

2007-08

OILERS

32

5

6

11

-4

36

87

5.8

2008-09

BLUE JACKETS

51

12

8

20

-4

23

74

16.2

2009-10

BLUE JACKETS

60

19

12

31

-8

32

99

19.2

2009-10

SABRES

14

0

5

5

-3

2

21

0.0

2010-11

CANUCKS

80

14

15

29

4

78

115

12.2

2011-12

COYOTES

79

15

11

26

2

83

99

15.2

2012-13

COYOTES

28

5

7

12

-1

13

40

12.5

2012-13

SHARKS

11

2

4

6

1

4

20

10.0

2013-14

SHARKS

5

3

2

5

4

7

9

33.3

NHL TOTALS

635

137

123

260

2

497

1,039

13.2

CAREER PLAYOFF STATISTICS

SEASON

TEAM

GP

G

A

P

+/-

PIM

S

S%

2005-06

OILERS

22

4

7

11

2

16

42

9.5

2008-09

BLUE JACKETS

4

0

2

2

-3

2

4

0.0

2009-10

SABRES

4

0

2

2

1

12

7

0.0

2010-11

CANUCKS

23

3

4

7

2

28

20

15.0

2011-12

COYOTES

3

1

1

2

2

2

7

14.3

2012-13

SHARKS

5

1

0

1

-1

2

12

8.3

2013-14

SHARKS

7

2

1

3

3

18

6

33.3

NHL TOTALS

68

11

17

28

6

80

98

11.2

NOTABLE

Torres1

Traded to the Oilers with Brad Isbister by New York for Janne Niinimaa in March 2003, Torres played 276 games with the Oilers, scoring 20-or-more goals twice, including 27 in 2005-06. He tallied 67-53-120 overall. Built like a cross between a pitbull and fire hydrant at six-feet and 215 pounds, Torres could flat-out play. He could skate. He could score. He could hit.

It’s the latter Torres is best remembered for by Oiler fans. Specifically, how he blindsided San Jose’s Milan Michalek with a textbook headshot that, at the time, was seen as an act that swung momentum Edmonton’s way in their second-round series against the Sharks in the 2006 playoffs. Torres blew him up good, and the Oilers advanced to the conference final against Anaheim.

Had that wicked hit on Michalek stood alone as an example of playoff intensity, a split-second decision gone wrong, a one-off, Torres would have been fine. That, of course, isn’t his story. Like Bryan Marchment before him, Torres can’t help himself. In the years since 2006, with the NHL’s intensified focus on taking headshots out of the game, Torres is the dictionary definition of a predatory hitter.

THE STORY

All told, Torres, traded to Columbus by Edmonton for Gilbert Brule in July of 2008, has been suspended five times and fined or warned by the NHL’s head office on four other occasions. His rap sheet includes four games for a hit on Oiler Jordan Eberle. His latest suspension, 41 games with San Jose for steamrolling Jakob Silfverberg, brings to 74 the games he’s been suspended for. In all, his dirty deeds have cost Torres about $670,000 in salary.

In terms of his career, it’s too bad, really. If Torres would’ve tried to toe the line, as he usually (not always) did during his time with Edmonton, instead of too often jumping across it with both feet, chances are we wouldn’t have seen him make stops in five different cities after leaving the Oilers.

Torres was often an effective player, and sometimes a force, during his tenure with the Oilers, but he’s been unable, or perhaps unwilling, to adapt. Instead of playing a significant part in another playoff run, like he did in 2006, Torres is running out of time. 

This series will look at the top 100 Edmonton Oilers from the NHL era 1979-80 to 2014-15, starting with 100 and working up. 

Listen to Robin Brownlee Wednesdays and Thursdays from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on the Jason Gregor Show on TSN 1260.

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  • Morgo_82

    Ah Raffi Torres, this takes me back to when he was an effective player and not just a piece of crap who should be permanently kicked out of the league.

    • mrBacon

      I actually feel a little bad for the guys like Torres what just had the unfortunate luck of being born at the wrong time. He had been coached to play a certain way most of his life up to that point, and then they just change the whole game up. Had he been born 10 years earlier, he would’ve been remembered as a hard nosed guy who made opponents pay and was able to chip in during his prime. 10 years later and he likely would’ve had very different coaching.

      The example we always refer to is Scott Stevens. He’s still one of my favourites and had he played the majority of his career post lockout he either would’ve been very different, or perpetually suspended.

      But really, how many of you still go back and watch his most famous hits every once in awhile?

  • For Pete's Sake!

    Raffi is a real throwback. Coaches used to absolutely love guys like him.

    Like you said, Robin. A predatory hit could turn a playoff series around and that series against San Jose wasn’t the first one that happened in.

    I remember a hit like that by Bryan Trottier on Bob Gainey that devastated the Canadiens and helped win the series for the Islanders.

    Now guys like that are pariahs and predators. How the world changes. What would Scott Stevens be in today’s NHL if he was still around?

    If Raffi had been born a couple of decades earlier, we might be speaking of him differently.

    • Morgo_82

      I agree completely. Scott Stevens in today’s NHL would be either rendered ineffective completely or suspended all the time. Imagine what Phaneuf or Kassian would be like in the 80’s, absolute devastation machines.

  • Poke Check

    From the article: “Instead of playing a significant part in another playoff run, like he did in 2006…”

    I think it’s kind of interesting that Torres had a similar impact, albeit smaller over the entire playoffs, in the Canucks run to the 2011 finals as he did in 2006. Would the Canucks have won the first series, if Torres hadn’t taken out Seabrook?

  • giddy

    I was a huge Raffi fan in the mid 2000’s. Fav Oiler behind obvious mentions like Smytty and Jason Smith. Shame he turned into such a cheap shotting POS. I’ll never understand that.

    • For Pete's Sake!

      That’s the point though. Raffi didn’t change. The NHL did. We used to love big hits like Raffi laid out.

      Now that we know the devastating effects concussions have on player’s lives the league changed but unfortunatedly for Raffi, he couldn’t adapt.