Video: NHL drops hammer, suspends Torres for 41 games

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One of the NHL’s most notorious hitters has been tagged by the league.

On Monday, the Department of Player Safety announced that San Jose forward Raffi Torres has been suspended 41 games — half of the regular season — for an illegal check to the head of Anaheim’s Jakob Silfverberg.

The length of Torres’ suspension is a combination of the Silfverberg hit and Torres’ history of delivering hits to the heads of opposing players, including Jordan Eberle, Jarret Stoll, Nate Prosser and Marian Hossa.

“Torres has repeatedly violated league playing rules,” the Department of Player Safety explained. “And has been sanctioned multiple times for similar infractions.”

The league also noted that Torres has been warned, fined, or suspended on nine occasions over the course of his career, “the majority of which have involved a hit to an opponent’s head.”

“Same player every year,” Ducks forward Ryan Kesler said following the hit on Silfverberg. “I played with the guy [in Vancouver]. He needs to learn how to hit. That has no part in our game anymore.”

As for what lies ahead, things could get interesting upon potential appeal:

Torres successfully appealed a suspension under the previous CBA, getting his punishment for the Hossa hit reduced from 25 to 21 games.

Under terms of the new CBA, Torres isn’t categorized as a repeat offender because his last suspension came in May of 2013 — more than two years ago.

Of course, part of the reason Torres hasn’t run afoul of the league in two years is because he’s barely played.

Knee injuries limited Torres to just 12 games in ’13-14, and he sat out last season entirely.

Sharks send three to AHL; still waiting on Torres suspension

Nikolay Goldobin, Brent Burns
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The San Jose Sharks have assigned forwards Nikolay Goldobin and Melker Karlsson and defenseman Mirco Mueller to AHL San Jose.

Goldobin and Mueller are both first-round picks — the former in 2014, the latter in 2013.

Goldobin had one goal and two assists in five preseason games. It’s possible he could be called back up when the NHL suspends Raffi Torres.

Torres remains part of the 23-man roster (see below) but is facing a lengthy ban for his hit on Anaheim’s Jakob Silfverberg. Torres has a hearing today.

Rookie defenseman Dylan DeMelo is also on the roster. The 22-year-old had one goal and two assists in four preseason games.

Sharks roster

Torres offered in-person hearing, potentially setting up long suspension

Torres hit
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What will Raffi Torres get this time?

The 33-year-old forward who’s become known primarily for his controversial hits has once again put himself in the sights of the NHL’s Department of Player Safety. They confirmed that he was offered an in-person hearing following his hit on Jakub Silfverberg Saturday night. He declined the opportunity to meet with them face-to-face, but the offer itself is an important detail because it gives the league the option to suspend him for more than five games.

It certainly seems like the stage is set for a lengthy suspension. While Torres is not considered a repeat offender as his last suspension came more than 18 months ago, the NHL still retains the right to consider his history when deciding on this matter.

Among other incidents, he was once was banned from 25 games for his hit on Marian Hossa in 2012, although it was later reduced to 21 contests after an appeal. The NHL found that Torres was guilty of breaking three rules for that hit; namely interference, charging, and illegally hitting the head. The NHL is reviewing Torres’ latest incident for the same three violations.

You can see the hit below:

And here it is slowed down:

Torres got a match penalty and Silfverberg left the game. Fortunately, Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau said that Silfverberg could have returned, but was kept out for precautionary reasons.

Torres suspended pending hearing

Raffi Torres, Cory Schneider
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According to TSN’s Darren Dreger, Raffi Torres has been suspended pending his disciplinary hearing with the league for his hit on Ducks forward Jakob Silfverberg.

Torres was assessed a match penalty for targeting Silfverberg’s head on Saturday night.

The 33-year-old missed all of last season with a knee injury, and it looks like the start of his regular season will be delayed once again.

Head coach Bruce Boudreau said that Silfverberg could have come back into the game, but he was held out for precautionary reasons.

Ducks center Ryan Kesler didn’t hide his feelings after the contest.

“(Torres) is the same player every year,” Kesler told reporters. “He needs to learn how to hit. That has no part in our game anymore.”

Heads up: Torres says he’s ready for Sharks opener

Raffi Torres
AP
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Just when you thought it was safe to swim behind the red line again …

All labored “Jaws” references aside, Raffi Torres believes that he’s healthy enough to play in the San Jose Sharks’ season opener, according to CSNBayArea.com’s Kevin Kurz.

Kurz explains that the bigger question is whether Sharks management, particularly head coach Peter DeBoer, believes that he’s truly capable.

” … Obviously with him, he’s been out a long time. He’s worked awfully hard to get to this point,” DeBoer said. “I think if you asked him, he’s probably not where he was when he left healthy, but he’s working back towards that and I think he’s getting better every game.”

Indeed, Torres admitted that he’s still a bit limited by right knee issues that have troubled him for the past couple years. Torres said that he “had no real jump” during the second and third periods of a recent exhibition, for instance.

That doesn’t really sound too promising, although Torres is still able to land some big hits here and there.

That intimidating presence – along with an ability to keep up, at least before his knee injury – was part of what made Torres so valuable before.

Torres says “I’ll let my play dictate my fate,” but the Sharks are ultimately the ones who get to choose his destiny.