I laughed when I first heard the news about Raffi Torres’ 25-game suspension. I honestly did.
You can call me a homer all you’d like, but hear me out before you do so.
Not only is it the longest suspension of Brendan Shanhan’s brief tenure, the NHL has seen worse — especially as of late — and is truly setting out to hurt one man, Torres, rather than teaching the league a lesson.
We all know that hockey is arguably the most physical professional sport, aside from those that encourage direct blows to the head (here’s looking at you, UFC). Guys take punishing hits day in and day out and put their bodies through hell just to make hockey plays. It’s part of the game, along with big hits.
First off, Torres’ hit on Hossa was illegal. I won’t ever argue that. He left his feet, he targeted the head and he hurt Chicago Blackhawks forward Marian Hossa. It’s plain and simple. But his suspension is absolutely ludicrous.
Torres, thanks to this suspension, immediately jumps to the third-longest suspension in NHL history. Consider that fact. The third-longest in NHL history on a hit that happened during the speed of the game. The top two suspensions — both awarded to Chris Simon of the New York Islanders — were for stomping on a player’s leg and a slash to the face of an opponent. The Torres hit was no where near as severe.
Now consider some of the infractions that were deemed less severe than Torres’ hit on Hossa: Using a stick like a baseball bat and hitting an opponent in the head (shown in video at right), jumping a player from behind and knocking him out, leaving the penalty box to fight a player, checking a guy after a goal was scored. Paints things in a little different light, right?