The Carolina Hurricanes’ decision to bring veteran forward Raffi Torres on a tryout deal was met with a bit more criticism than your usual training camp tryout.
That is because Torres has been one of the NHL’s more reckless players over the years when it comes to delivering illegal hits and has been on the receiving end of five suspensions in his career that have totaled 78 games. That means he has missed almost an entire NHL season’s worth of games because of illegal hits.
That is a lot. It is a total includes the 25-game (later reduced to 21 games) ban he was given for a hit on Chicago Blackhawks forward Marian Hossa during the 2012 playoffs and the 41-game ban he received last year for the preseason hit to Anaheim Ducks forward Jakob Silfverberg.
That resume has, obviously, left him with a pretty bad reputation in the NHL for his style of play, and with him turning 35 in a month it is worth wondering if he can ever change a style that he spent his entire career playing.
On Friday, he spoke with Chip Alexander of the News-Observer and said that he is well aware of what people say about him and his style of play, while also acknowledging this might be his last shot in the NHL and that he needs to change the way he plays.
More from Torres, via the News-Observer:
“People are going to say what they’re going to say. I have not helped myself. You sleep in the bed you make. I accept that, I believe I had paid my dues and I have dealt with what I had to deal with. I think I can change the way I play.”
“I know I’ve got to change. I know I say that over and over, but I’ve got to change and I can change,” Torres said. “People say, ‘What about the five or six suspensions?’ and I understand that, but overall I think I can change, I can still play, can still be productive.”
He is right about one thing: He has tried to deliver this message before, apologizing for several of his previous hits that have warranted suspensions and multiple times declaring his desire to change his ways on the ice.
Following the suspension for the hit on Hossa in the 2012 playoffs he said he wanted to focus on being a smarter player.
Since those comments he has played in only 56 NHL games and been suspended for 47; A six-game suspension that sat him down for most of a second playoff series as a member of the Sharks, and the 41-game suspension from last season.
He has not played in an NHL regular season game since the 2013-14 season, and even then he only played in five games.
His inability to avoid crossing the line is always going to be a question mark because that reputation never really leaves a player. Plus, at some point as a player you have to stop talking about changing, and actually make a change. To this point, Torres has never been able to prove that he can.
But for as big of a problem as that might be, the bigger issue for Torres when it comes to making the Hurricanes is the toll injuries and surgeries in recent years have taken on him, and what he actually has left to offer from a skill and production standpoint.