If you planned to put together a list of the NHL’s most controversial active hitters, Raffi Torres and Matt Cooke may very well jostle for the top spot. Perhaps it makes sense that Torres feels for his fellow polarizing winger, then.
The San Jose Sharks forward had an interesting analogy for how people view Cooke, as CSNBayArea.com reports.
“I think he’s done a heck of a job the last couple of seasons to re-establish his game,” Torres said. “But with the media getting involved and especially social media, they make him out to be a serial killer. It’s kind of painful when you have to read that kind of stuff. I’m sure his family and close friends have to read that kind of stuff.”
It’s interesting that Torres, 32, would make such a comparison in defending someone else. After all, when he was a member of the Phoenix Coyotes, his former GM Don Maloney reacted to the outrage of Torres’ hit on Marian Hossa by saying, “You would think Raffi murdered a bus load of children the way he’s portrayed here in Chicago.” (Naturally, he would come to regret that statement.)
So, basically, one over-the-top assessment for another?
Regardless, Torres seems to empathize with Cooke’s feeling of throwing a lot of hard work away with that knee-on-knee hit with Colorado Avalanche defenseman Tyson Barrie.
“I’m sure he felt brutal in that moment [Monday] night, thinking, ‘What did I just do? All that work goes down the drain,'” Torres said. “He’ll take what he gets and I’m sure he’ll be back being an effective player for them in the future.”
Here’s video of the Minnesota Wild winger’s hit on Barrie, which will reportedly sideline the Avs blueliner for four-to-six weeks:
There’s another Raffl in the NHL.
On Tuesday, the Jets announced that Thomas Raffl — the older brother of Flyers forward Michael Raffl — has signed a one-year, one-way deal worth $575,000.
Raffl, 29, was in Winnipeg’s camp on a PTO after a lengthy career in Europe. He spent time playing in Sweden and his native Austria, most recently with powerhouse EC Red Bull Salzburg — last year, Raffl scored 53 points in 52 games for Salzburg and three in seven games for Austria while serving as team captain at the World Hockey Championships.
“We would like to recognize and express our appreciation to the EC Red Bull Salzburg organization for allowing Thomas and the Winnipeg Jets this opportunity,” Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff said in a statement.
With the Jets, Raffl projects to play in the bottom-six forward group, where he can utilize his 6-foot-4, 215-pound frame in a checking-slash-energy role.
For now, though, he’ll start out with the club’s AHL affiliate in Manitoba.
Seven defensemen will comprise the Philadelphia Flyers’ opening-day roster, which the club finalized today.
Those seven are Radko Gudas, Michael Del Zotto, Luke Schenn, Nick Schultz, Brandon Manning, Mark Streit, and Evgeny Medvedev.
Not on the list? Andrew MacDonald, who has cleared waivers and been assigned to AHL Lehigh Valley. (That move allowed the Flyers to keep both Manning and youngster Scott Laughton.)
Also not on the list were prospects Shayne Gostisbehere, Robert Hagg, Sam Morin, Ivan Provorov and Travis Sanheim. The first three will start the season in the AHL. The last two have been sent back to junior.
But the opening-day roster is not where this story ends. How the Flyers’ defensive mix changes as the season progresses will be worth watching.
They’d no doubt love to move Schenn, a pending unrestricted free agent with a $3.6 million cap hit. He could also end up in the AHL, a la MacDonald.
Medvedev, the 33-year-old who came over from the KHL and put up five points in five preseason games, is another pending UFA. The club could either look to re-sign or flip him.
Might 37-year-old Streit be a chip worth cashing in at the deadline, especially if the Flyers aren’t in a playoff position on Feb. 29? He’s only got two years left on his contract.
Meanwhile, GM Ron Hextall will be watching pending restricted free agents Manning and Gudas closely. Are they part of the future?
So, lots of decisions to make in Philly as the blue line continues its much-needed transition.