Raffi Torres

Raffi Torres is now Public Enemy No. 1 with the media


After Raffi Torres crushed Marian Hossa with a brutal illegal check that went unpenalized while Hossa was sent to the hospital, the aftermath of that has created a firestorm within the media.

Torres’ checkered history of illegal hits, with most targeting the head, is well known. We’ve seen him scrutinized by the league three times this season already, getting fined once and suspended, as well as in last year’s playoffs and it appears everyone has about had it with him.

Mark Spector of Sportsnet calls Torres “hockey’s biggest punk” saying that Torres never learns from his misgivings and will only be out there to do it again in the future making yet another team regret signing him in the first place.

On Tuesday night Torres claimed the belt, as well as his latest victim, with a typically predatory hit on Hossa. It was like so many others by Torres, who floats from team to team to team, each one pleased that they’ve picked up “a game-changer,” then liking themselves even more when they part ways, deciding that their organization is better than that.

Meanwhile, both Damien Cox of the Toronto Star and Renaud Lavoie of RDS in Quebec (French) were quick to refer to Torres as the league’s new version of the old Matt Cooke. Not the reformed guy we’ve seen this year, but the guy who was suspended for 17-games last year.

The criticisms of Torres are harsh, but they’re also mostly spot on. If there’s anyone in the league meant to be a candidate to be forcefully educated by the league to clean up their game, the way Cooke was, it’s Torres. Question is: Will the league step in and do something along those lines?

Raffi Torres receives two-game suspension


Now that Matt Cooke is seemingly cleaning up his act, Raffi Torres might be the NHL’s new poster child for recidivist dirty hitting. Time and time again the Phoenix Coyotes forward bends or breaks the rules and it doesn’t seem like he’s learning from his “mistakes.” Brendan Shanahan & Co. handed him a two-game suspension for his hit on Nate Prosser of the Minnesota Wild.

After making some strong statements with lengthy suspensions during the preseason, there’s a growing sentiment that the NHL’s disciplinary policies are as random and toothless as ever. Many might point to Torres’ bad deeds (not to mention Daniel Carcillo’s antics, which we’ll touch on later) as one of the most plaguing examples.

What do you think? Did Torres deserve more or less of a punishment or did Shanahan get it just right?

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

Raffi Torres and wife as Jay Z and Beyonce

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.)


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.