In the midst of the first round of the NHL “Smackdown” Playoffs, Brendan “Goldie Locks” Shanahan has been criticized for his inability to make consistent decisions regarding supplemental discipline on numerous illegal hits. Too much? Too little? Just right? Have been questions hockey fans have been debating since Nashville defensemen Shea Weber deliberately slammed the head of Detroit forward Henrik Zetterberg into the Plexiglas.
Shea Weber’s unpunished infraction is just the tip on the iceberg. Players like Senators’ Matt Carkner and Penguins’ Arron Asham received minimal suspensions for the severity of their infections, which without question were not hockey plays with malicious intent to injure.
Enter: Coyotes’ forward Raffi Torres
Torres delivered a devastating hit to Blackhawks’ Marian Hossa at the 11:42 mark of the first period in game three. Even though Hossa was no longer in possession of the puck, Torres lined him up, built up speed, left his feet and drove his shoulder directly into Hossa’s face.
By many standards this is a “borderline” hockey play. The game is fast and one split second and a few inches can turn a good hit into a dirty one. Had Torres made an attempt to slow down, or even stay on the ice, he would have hit Hossa in the chest, knocking him down without a doubt, the hit would have been clean(er). So the question remains, is a 25 game suspension too severe for a “borderline” hockey play, while Weber, Carkner and Asham are reenacting moves from Monday night’s WrestleMania on ice without so much as a slap on the wrist?
Even though Shanahan and the Department of Players’ Safety haven’t exactly been consistent in handing out supplemental discipline, and it’s been difficult to agree with many of their rulings, the one thing they do right is hold each player individually accountable for their specific infraction, their previous history, and the severity of the injury (although personally I don’t think injury should influence the ultimate punishment, a head hit is a head hit. Zero tolerance).
Raffi Torres has stood in front of the judge not once, not twice, but FIVE times in his NHL career (twice this season alone), for the same exact hit. Torres has made a habit of being a fraction of a second too late, and extending his shoulder or elbow, sometimes leaving the ice completely when finishing a check on a player without the puck. While this hit might have been a “borderline” hockey play for a first time offender, for Raffi Torres it was a deliberate hit to the head with intent to injure.
Did he whack Marian Hossa across the head with his stick? No. Did he crosscheck him in the neck? No. Instead, Raffi Torres targeted Hossa from across the ice with one goal in mind: take him out. He accomplished what he set out to do, expecting the usual 4-5 games he’s served in the past, and with the example set by recent suspensions around the league, who can blame him? A third line goon sits out a few games, while a superstar is sidelined indefinitely sounds like a fair trade off for the Coyotes.
A 25 game suspension is very severe, but not for Raffi Torres. For him, this punishment is just right.
If the Blackhawks couldn’t find enough inspiration in Shaw’s suspension and Hossa’s injury to light a fire under them in the last few games, I hope they consider this:
“Should the suspension carry over to next season, because he is classified as a repeat offender under the Collective Bargaining Agreement, Torres will forfeit $21,341.46 in salary for every regular-season game in which he is ineligible to play.” – NHL.com
Now go win this series, so this goon has to pay for what he did! Literally.