Raffi Torres and wife as Jay Z and Beyonce

This Raffi Torres costume controversy doesn’t appear to be going away

56 Comments

By now you’ve all seen the picture of Phoenix Coyotes LW Raffi Torres and wife Gianna dressed up for Halloween as Jay-Z and Beyonce. The photo was taken at a team party and shared publicly by Coyotes teammate Paul Bissonnette, whose nickname has reportedly gone from “BizNasty” to “BizEnoughWithTheBloodyCameraPhone.”

What started as a seemingly innocuous Twitpic has turned into a pretty massive controversy. Nearly every major media outlet is running with the story; the sheer volume of scrutiny forced the Coyotes organization to issue a public statement denouncing negative reaction to the costume.

(And in a perfect moment of irony, check out this screencap from the front page of the Coyotes website.)

source:

Here are some of the more choice criticisms of Torres’s costume from around the interweb:

Sporting News: “Regardless of how big a Jay-Z fan Torres is, blackface is virtually taboo because of its use in the construction of damaging stereotypes; typically, a white performer would darken his or her face and portray racist characters. The practice was accepted throughout much of the 19th and 20th centuries.”

Global TV: “When the Phoenix Coyotes sent out the invites to their annual Hallowe’en party, which took place Sunday night, one imagines they forgot to include a warning asking players not to dress in blackface.”

Bomani Jones: “Seriously, what’s the character here? He’s in a t-shirt and sneakers. The joke is the makeup. And that’s the problem.”

Chris Yuscavage, Complex.com: “White people dressing up in blackface for Halloween as their favorite rappers is always an uncomfortable thing. But it’s even more uncomfortable when professional athletes do it because, well, they’re professional athletes. They should know that them painting their faces black is going to cause some level of controversy. Yet, Raffi Torres of the NHL’s Phoenix Coyotes took it upon himself to do it anyway.”

Sportsgrid.com: “Predictably, many were up in arms, and Bissonnette responded to those criticisms by noting that Torres is actually a big fan of Jay-Z. We don’t doubt he is. But that’s the thing with blackface: there’s a history there, and no matter how benign intentions may be, it’s hard to see blackface and not think of…that. And yes, there have been instances of blackface in popular culture actually working, but there’s a difference between a movie where the blackface can actually be used as part of a larger point, and…some guy’s costume.”

The only thing saving Torres right now is the Kim Kardashian-Kris Humphries divorce. He was one of Twitter’s top trending terms until those two ended their seemingly unbreakable union, forcing the Internet to redirect its collective vitriol.

PHT Morning Skate: Raffi Torres is Jay-Z for Halloween… Wait, what?

Raffi Torres and wife as Jay Z and Beyonce
2 Comments

PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.

Raffi Torres got dressed up as Jay-Z for Halloween. That might not sit well with some folks but he sure looks the part. (BizNasty2point0 on Twitter)

If you think people weren’t upset by that costume… You’d be wrong. (Sun Media, Puck Daddy)

Not that we’re ushering in Jaromir Jagr’s retirement, but when he’s done playing hockey he’ll be busy as an owner in the Czech League. (CSNPhilly.com)

Quebec City doesn’t have a new arena yet, but they’ve already got plans to honor their past ready to go. (Greatest Hockey Legends)

Nick Leddy is quietly turning into one of Chicago’s steadiest defensemen. Not bad for a 19 year-old. Why can’t the Wild find guys like that? (CSNChicago.com)

Sens rookie goalie Robin Lehner sticks up for Nikita Filatov saying he’s too good for the AHL. Now if only he’d prove that in the NHL…  (Senators Extra)

Mike Fisher isn’t joining the Predators on their road trip to Chicago after getting blown up by Francois Beauchemin. Uh oh. (Tennessean)

Money on the board? Florida assistant coach Craig Ramsay gears up to face his former team the Atlanta… Winnipeg Jets. (NHL)

When not complaining about referee conspiracies, the Bruins look to get the defensive groove back. (CSNNE.com)

Just call the Panthers doormen because they’re making opponents have closed-door meetings after playing them. (Sun Sentinel)

Finally, it might be time for the L.A. Dodgers to sign up Scott Parse after this batted-in goal against Colorado.

Joe Thornton’s status in doubt after a wicked hit from Raffi Torres

Joe Thornton, Alex Burrows

The Sharks tough 4-2 loss in Game 4 to the Canucks came with a price. Not only are the Sharks now down 3-1 in the series that’s headed back to Vancouver with the possibility of seeing the Canucks clinching a spot in the Stanley Cup final, but San Jose could be without their captain in that game.

Joe Thornton was knocked out of Game 4 in the third period thanks to a heavy hit from Canucks forward Raffi Torres. Torres’ hit caught Thornton off guard and caused Thornton to fall awkwardly to the ice. While Thornton popped back up after the hit, he was holding his left arm gingerly as he skated back to the bench. Thornton headed back to the locker room for treatment and did not return to the ice.

After the game, Sharks coach Todd McLellan was asked about Thornton’s status and gave this update.

 Q.  Can you update us on Thornton’s situation?

        COACH McLELLAN:  I can’t right now.  We’ll see once I get an update.

We’re not about to play amateur doctor here and guess what’s ailing Thornton, but seeing him holding his arm the way he was when he left the ice to be treated has to give the Sharks extreme concern. After all, if you’re going into an elimination game without arguably your best forward, you’re starting off in a bad way from the get go. We’ll find out more about Thornton’s condition later on, but right now the Sharks have every reason to be worried ahead of Game 5.

This video is no longer available. Click here to watch more NBC Sports videos!

The NHL explains logic behind Raffi Torres non-suspension

Raffi Torres, Brent Seabrook
4 Comments

In case you haven’t heard, Vancouver Canucks forward Raffi Torres landed a thunderous (and controversial) hit on Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Brent Seabrook in Sunday’s Game 3 match. The NHL decided he wasn’t guilty of an infraction that was worthy of a fine or suspension, meaning that Torres was only really guilty of incredibly poor timing since he landed that hit on his first game back from a previous suspension.

(You can read my thoughts on the hit here, Joe’s take in this post and reactions from both teams in this article.)

Now that you’ve had a chance to digest the basics of the situation, we can move on to the NHL’s explanation for their decision. The common Twitter snark revolved around word that players get more leeway with hits behind the red line, but league disciplinarian Colin Campbell didn’t mention that in his statement on the matter.

“When Rule 48 (Illegal Check to the Head) was unanimously adopted by the General Managers in March 2010, there was no intention to make this type of shoulder hit to the head illegal. In fact, at that time, we distributed a video to all players and teams that showed a similar hit on a defenseman by an attacking forward coming from the opposite direction behind the net and stated that this is a ‘legal play’.

“This hit meets none of the criteria that would subject Torres to supplemental discipline, including an application of Rule 48: He did not charge his opponent or leave his feet to deliver this check. He did not deliver an elbow or extended forearm and this hit was not ‘late’.”

So this begs the question, particularly to those who thought Torres deserved to be suspended: is this a satisfactory explanation? If not, what else can the league do to curb these types of hits or at least make their process easier to understand? Let us know in the comments and check out one more clip of the hit below.

This video is no longer available. Click here to watch more NBC Sports videos!

Raffi Torres won’t face fine or suspension for Brent Seabrook hit

Raffi Torres, Brent Seabrook
20 Comments

Wherever you stand on the issue, the NHL made its decision regarding Vancouver Canucks forward Raffi Torres’ hit on Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Brent Seabrook. TSN’s Bob McKenzie passes along a report from Darren Dreger that the league will not provide supplementary discipline for the hit.

In other words, Torres will not face a fine or a suspension for the incident, meaning he will be on the same sheet of ice as Seabrook for at least one more game.

When discussing the hit, I thought the league should suspend him for five games while Joe said he wouldn’t be surprised if nothing ended up happening. He rightly points out that the area behind the red line is given more leeway than other parts of the ice surface and I’ll admit that it wasn’t an especially egregious hit.

That being said, the league handed out a four-game suspension (including two playoff games) when Torres landed a nearly-identical hit on Jordan Eberle that occurred just a stride or two away from the red line itself. My problem isn’t with the overall decision, but rather the lack of much (if any) consistency or clarity in the league’s policies. Would the league have given Torres a pass if he hit Eberle a few feet lower in the Edmonton Oilers’ zone? Was this an example of a blindside hit or not?

This decision making process is about as clear and coherent as the plot of a David Lynch movie at this point. We polled PHT readers regarding what the league should do about the situation; here are the results:

(click to enlarge)

Ultimately, it’s best to break down the factions into “pro-suspension” (about 65 percent) and “anti-suspension” (approximately 35 percent) groups. As you can see, it seems like the greatest numbers were in the extremes. Readers either wanted nothing to be done (almost 30 percent) or they wanted a significant suspension for Torres (a bit more than 36 percent).

There will probably be some Blackhawks fans who are downright angry over the ruling, but I think most feel the same way I do: bewildered. Hopefully the NHL will do a better job of providing some clarity regarding the decision making process next season. If not, the “Wheel of Justice” jokes will continue to spin unabated.

If you want to watch the video clip one more time, here it is.

This video is no longer available. Click here to watch more NBC Sports videos!