I had to take a few days to completely calm down before talking about the infamous hit from Tuesday. Now we have a definitive ruling, and it’s a good time to have my say.
It was dirty, no doubt about it. There honestly was nothing clean about it. Late hit, left his feet, targeted the head. Marian Hossa left on a stretcher. And I’ve heard that not only did Raffi Torres wink from the bench, but the other Coyotes players were laughing as Hoss was being tended to by trainers. If you want to throw around the word classless, that would be a great example. To make matters worse, Torres said he was finishing his check (um, NO) and Coyotes GM Don Maloney was baffled as to why Torres was so hated in Chicago. Please.
Today was Judgement Day for Raffi Torres. I got online today expecting 10 games at the least. I didn’t expect 25.
The explanation was clear:
- The hit was late, coming after Hoss had the puck. In fact, he knew Hoss didn’t have the puck because he swatted at it before the hit – interference penalty
- Torres launched himself and left his feet – charging penalty
- He targeted the head – illegal hit to the head penalty
- Hoss was, in Brendan Shanahan’s words, severely injured (does he know something we fans don’t know?)
- Torres has been in trouble for this exact hit five times in the past, twice in this past season alone.
So Torres will serve his suspension for however long the Yotes are in the playoffs, and the carryover will be served in the next season. That carryover means that he won’t be in preseason games either. The only thing about this that bugs me is that the suspension is retroactive, meaning Thursday’s game was the first of his suspension. Ugh. And if he’s thinking about appealing, he should know this: appeals go directly to Gary Bettman, and a suspension has never been changed or reversed.
By the way, if you think 25 is high, check out these suspensions:
- December 2007: Chris Simon, already previously suspended 25 games for blatantly slashing Ryan Hollweg in the head in March of that year, was suspended 30 games for stomping on Jarkko Ruutu. It was Simon’s 8th suspension of his career.
- October 2007: Philadelphia Flyer Jesse Boulerice was suspended 25 games for a vicious cross-check on Ryan Kesler. They’d been in each other’s faces throughout the game.
- February 2000: Marty McSorley basically ended his career when he slashed Donald Brashear, earning him a 23-game suspension that covered the remainder of the season. Not only did he not play in the NHL again, he was charged with assault and sentenced to 18 months’ probation. According to Emma, that hit was the basis for Ross Rhea’s hit that sent him to the minors in the movie Goon.
- Harken back to April 1993, when then-NHL player Dale Hunter deliberately hit Pierre Turgeon after Turgeon scored a goal off Hunter’s turnover. At that time, the 21-game suspension was the biggest the league had ever seen and was one of the first major rulings Gary Bettman laid down after becoming commissioner.
- March 2004: Todd Bertuzzi sucker punched Steve Moore in the head and was suspended 20 games. Moore’s career ended with that punch, while Bertuzzi sat out for the remainder of the season as well as the playoffs and was banned from IIHF play during the lockout the following season. But it doesn’t end there – Moore’s civil suit against Bertuzzi is set to begin this September.
The talk now is whether or not Torres will change as a result of his suspension. Many have said that it’s not a matter of him wanting to change, but rather he’ll have to change or else (I think the “or else” came today, but what do I know). I really don’t think he’ll do so willingly – it’ll be a matter of something the Coyotes organization could do to punish him if his deplorable ways continue that will be incentive. But when he said in a statement today that he “sincerely regrets” hitting Hoss, I don’t believe him. He didn’t regret it Tuesday, he probably didn’t regret the other hits, and he’s being told to say he’s sorry. I think he’s a borderline sociopath, if not a full-blown one.
Will he change his ways? Maybe. But he’ll be singing that song from the South Park movie (NSFW for swearing) when he vows to do so.