Raffi Torres, Brent Seabrook

The NHL explains logic behind Raffi Torres non-suspension


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.

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

Raffi Torres, Brent Seabrook

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.

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Blackhawks, Canucks react to Raffi Torres hit on Brent Seabrook


(Do you think Raffi Torres deserves a suspension for his hit on Brent Seabrook or no punishment at all? Vote in our poll to share your thoughts on the matter.)

In my time following controversial hits, there haven’t been many moments when a coach or fellow player criticizes someone on their own team. Maybe they disagree with the nature of a check behind closed doors, but considering how much these people go through together, it’s stunning that it ever happens the other way.

Off the top of my head, there are two examples of slight criticism of a teammate or pupil: Anaheim Ducks coach Randy Carlyle admitted that Bobby Ryan’s foot stomp had “no place in the game” while Boston Bruins defenseman Andrew Ference wasn’t very happy with a Daniel Paille hit.

To little surprise, Canucks coach Alain Vigneault defended Torres when asked about the situation. In fact, he didn’t even think it should have been a penalty. Here’s a snippet of his comments, via Tracey Myers of CSN Chicago.

“Hockey is a collision sport, there’s a lot of intensity. I compare that hit to (Ryan) Getzlaf on (Dan) Hamhuis, and (Getzlaf) didn’t even get a two-minute minor. I didn’t think it was a penalty.

“Obviously you never want to see a player get hurt, and I understand where (the league) is going with it, but hockey is a physical game. I think each and every one of us wants it to stay a physical game without players getting hurt, but in a collision sport there’s always going to be injuries.”

Vigneault has a point about the considerable gray area between the Torres-Seabrook hit and the check Getzlaf delivered on Hamhuis, which just shows the increasing level of confusion surrounding the way the league polices its players.

Also to little surprise, Blackhawks players and coach Joel Quenneville weren’t especially happy about the hit. Here’s Coach Q’s direct and angry response, also via Myers.

“Brutal, major, absolutely. They missed it. We could’ve scored four goals on that play,” said Quenneville, who added Seabrook did have to go off at the end of the second period “to settle down. We’re lucky he’s a big Western Canadian kid. Someone else would’ve been on a stretcher.”

Speaking of that “big Western Canadian kid,” Seabrook discussed the hit but was wise to be mostly diplomatic about it.

Seabrook said he didn’t have control of the puck and didn’t see Torres coming.

“I don’t know what I was looking at to be honest with you,” he said.

Torres just came off a four-game suspension – the last two regular-season and first two postseason games – for his hit to the head of Edmonton rookie Jordan Eberle on April 5.

“I haven’t watched the hit yet so I don’t want to comment on it,” Seabrook said. “He’s a hard-nosed guy. He’s been in trouble with the league before for doing the same kind of thing. I’m going to leave it at that and let the league look at it and whatever they do is what we have to deal with.”

It’s hardly a shock that the opposing teams hold differing viewpoints about the hit, but it’s a divisive issue with our readers, too. The league faces a tough balancing act between allowing the kind of physical play that is a hallmark of the game and punishing hits that go over the line.

Maybe one of these days, everyone will actually know where exactly that line is.

Here’s video of Seabrook discussing the hit, again from CSN Chicago.

Should Raffi Torres be suspended for his hit on Brent Seabrook? (Video and poll)

Canucks Oilers Hockey

If insanity really is repeating the same action but expecting a different result, then Vancouver Canucks forward Raffi Torres might be insane. On his first game back after serving a suspension for a brutal hit on Edmonton Oilers rookie Jordan Eberle, Torres delivered a virtually identical hit on Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Brent Seabrook.

Torres received a major penalty for the hit on Eberle, but most importantly received a four-game suspension that included two playoff games. This time around, Torres only received a two minute interference penalty for his infraction on Seabrook, although many people think that the greatest repercussions will come once the league reviews the check.

We can debate the merit of punishing these types of hits all day, but the bottom line is that the league already set a precedent by suspending him for nearly the exact same offense. If you want to compare the two hits, we have video that includes both hits at the bottom of this post.

It’s a downright stomach-turning moment when you consider the fact that Torres obviously didn’t learn his lesson from before. He clearly had little-to-no interest in the puck and was going straight for Seabrook, with the only subjective portion being whether or not he was targeting Seabrook’s head. It’s nice that the Blackhawks were able to get a measure of revenge by scoring a power-play goal on the resulting minor penalty, but will the Canucks care if they lose a replaceable player in Torres?

The moment was interesting for reasons beyond the shenanigans of a player who is drawing unfavorable comparisons to Matt Cooke, though. This situation put the cloudiness of the league’s concussion evaluation process under the spotlight, as Seabrook was allowed to play after the hit. If the referees followed the letter of the new concussion laws, he would have been forced to go to “The Quiet Room” for 15 minutes to determine if he has a concussion or not.

Seabrook received another hit from Torres (this time a clean one), which finally forced him to the locker room. Thankfully, Seabrook returned to play in the third period, but it’s easy to wonder if he’s covering up concussion symptoms.

Now that you know the basics of the situation, take a look at video footage of the Torres hits on Seabrook and Eberle.

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There were many who think Torres should be suspended for the rest of the first round series, but with the Canucks now up 3-0 (more on the game itself in a later post), it might be better for him to receive a certain number of games. People equate a single playoff game to two regular games, so his previous punishment was essentially a six-game suspension. Considering the fact that he clearly didn’t learn from that mistake, I’d say a five-game time-out session might be appropriate.

How do you feel about the hit, though? Does Torres deserve to go without a punishment, a small suspension or something more severe? Let us know by voting in the poll below.

Raffi Torres receives four-game suspension for hit on Jordan Eberle, including two playoff games

Canucks Oilers Hockey
1 Comment

At this point, the gang at PHT – along with countless fans, writers and other people who follow the sport – have gone beyond the point of being flabbergasted with the NHL’s rulings on fines and suspensions. The latest blind dart throw comes in relation to the four-game suspension the NHL handed to Vancouver Canucks forward Raffi Torres for his brutal hit to the head on Edmonton Oilers rookie Jordan Eberle.

This means that Torres will be forced to sit out Vancouver’s last two regular season games and two playoff games for his irresponsible action.

The fact that he won’t play in two games that actually matter softens the blow of what I think is an insufficient penalty. If you ask me, this hit was one of the worst types: an absolutely unnecessary hit to the head that clearly could have been avoided. It’s obvious that Torres had no interest in getting the puck in this exchange, making it tough (though still possible) to argue against the possibility that it was a malicious hit. The fact that he was so ready to drop his gloves after delivering that sickening check indicates two things: he either has a great sense of hearing or knew what he did would generate an appropriately angry response. Or both, I guess.

(To be fair, hard hits are often countered with fights, even if they are legal.)

Perhaps the only good news is that Eberle told reporters he isn’t experiencing any linger effects from that check.

People can go back and forth about whether or not Torres it was a blind side hit/elbow, but either way, this is the kind of behavior the NHL needs to eliminate. Honestly, a Matt Cooke-inspired first round suspension would have been just fine with me, even if Torres lacks the kind of resume of nonsense Cooke brings to the table.

Take a look at the hit and decide for yourself if the NHL made the right call.