Vancouver Canucks v Atlanta Thrashers

Raffi Torres lays out Jordan Eberle with shot to the head

Looking over the 9-game NHL schedule, the Vancouver Canucks trek to Edmonton to take on the Oilers may have been the least important game on the docket. It should have been just a routine game with the Canucks fine-tuning their game for the playoffs while the Oilers just continued to play out the string. But then Raffi Torres delivered a brutal shot to Jordan Eberle’s head and all the sudden, everything got a little more serious.

Torres received five minutes for elbowing, five minutes for the following fight, a game misconduct, and possibly much more tomorrow. Here is the video of the questionable hit and the commentary from the boys over on NHL On The Fly:

It’ll be interesting to see what the league does with this type of hit. Torres ignores the puck and makes principle contact with Jordan Eberle’s head. However, whether he elbows Eberle is up for debate. Some will say he led with the elbow and others will say he kept the elbow in when he delivered the hit. Also, it’s debatable whether it’s a blindside Rule 48 hit because Eberle sees the check coming at the last minute. Herein lies the problem: if it’s not an elbowing call and if it’s not a Rule 48 hit, then how would Colin Campbell suspend Torres?

Clearly, the NHL will take a long look at this hit for the simple reason that Torres was given a 5-minute major and a game misconduct for a hit to the head. Just from a quick look at the hit, it’s the type of thing the league is trying to get out of the game. Headshots are the buzzword of the moment and this was a shot to the head. Going further, this is a specific example why some of the GMs would like to see all headshots banned from the game. It wouldn’t matter if it Torres led with his elbow and it wouldn’t matter if it was from the blindside—a headshot is an illegal headshot. Simple as that.

How did you see the hit? Did the officials get it right on the ice when they called it an elbow? More importantly, do you think Torres deserves a suspension for his hit?

Raffi Torres, Mathieu Garon and Jaroslav Halak earn this week’s three stars


The NHL named its three stars of the week for November 1-7: Raffi Torres, Mathieu Garon and Jaroslav Halak. Let’s take a look at each player’s productivity with comments from the league’s press release and our own feedback.

First Star: Raffi Torres (LW, Vancouver)

Torres led the NHL in goals (five) and was second in points (six) for the week as the Canucks (8-3-2) recorded four victories to take over first place in the Northwest Division.

He scored six of his nine points on the season last week, with a hat trick against his former team (the Edmonton Oilers) being the highlight. It seems like Torres is developing some nice chemistry with solid two-way forward Manny Malhotra.

Torres might not go much higher than his personal best of 27-goals, but honestly, if he hits 20 the Canucks will be pretty happy with the rugged forward.

Mathieu Garon

Garon stopped 75 of 78 shots he faced, posting back-to-back shutouts, a 2-1-0 record, a 1.01 goals-against average and .962 save percentage as Columbus improved to 8-5-0 overall.

Garon earned half of the Blue Jackets’ wins this season (starter Steve Mason is 4-4) and seems to be in a similar situation as Brent Johnson in Pittsburgh right now. He’s outplaying his higher profile starter as a backup, but if this keeps up, the starts will be handed out far more evenly.

Jaroslav Halak

The former Montreal Canadiens playoff hero is backing up his name-making performances by helping the St. Louis Blues take an early lead over the Detroit Red Wings in the Central Division. In fact, this isn’t his first three stars award of the 2010-11 season.

Halak stopped 58 of 59 shots he faced, posting a 2-0-0 record, a 0.48 goals-against average and .983 save percentage as St. Louis improved to 9-1-2, first overall in the NHL standings.

His overall record is 8-1-1, earning three shutouts while putting up a 1.46 GAA and an outstanding 94.4 save percentage this season. It should be a tough November for St. Louis, so he might not put up the numbers to earn another award this month, but if they win more often than not then he’ll be just as valuable.

Video: Raffi Torres’ unlikely hat trick against Edmonton

Funny how things work out some nights. The Canucks have the Sedin twins, just got Alex Burrows back in the lineup and they’re facing an Oilers team that can be tricky. It’s also an Oilers team that Raffi Torres used to play for. Don’t suppose that was motivation for him to get it together tonight for Vancouver, was it? They may not be pretty goals, but Torres’ hat trick sealed the fate of the Oilers tonight in Vancouver’s 4-3 win in Edmonton.

2010 NHL free agency – Canucks sign Raffi Torres to one-year deal

raffitorres2.jpgIn one fell swoop, it appears that the Vancouver Canucks are both improving their third and fourth line depth while also tapping out of the hunt to re-sign defenseman Willie Mitchell. Reports early this morning, including a confirmation of sorts from Sportsnet’s Darren Millard, indicate that the Canucks will sign free agent forward Raffi Torres to a one-year $1 million contract.

Adding Torres gives the Canucks an instantly usable player on their third line on the left wing and a guy that will fit into coach Alain Vigneault’s system immediately. Torres is a tenacious checker and a guy that tends to rub everyone the wrong way while finding ways to put the puck in the net. He’s the precise sort of player the Canucks enjoy. Torres finished last year in Buffalo after being traded by the Blue Jackets and both his and the Sabres seasons ended with a thud.

The effect this has on the Canucks budget-wise is that this now puts the Canucks nearly $4 million over the salary cap. They’ve been rumored to be moving defenseman Kevin Bieksa who is making $3.75 million this season, but if they were hoping that Bieksa alone would clear enough salary to bring aboard Mitchell, they’ll be mistaken. Getting rid of Bieksa and his contract would put the Canucks about $91,000 under the cap. Unless the Canucks are getting some kind of miracle deal from Willie Mitchell, it seems highly unlikely they’ll be bringing him back.

As it is, opportunities with San Jose, Los Angeles and Washington are still out there for Mitchell and with Vancouver making the move to get Torres, it’s possible that they know that Mitchell isn’t coming back already.

Raffi Torres says don't worry about extension, he's signing in Toronto?

Raffi Torres is on his way to Buffalo, as he’s the latest player to be traded in the final months of his contract. He hasn’t scored more than 20 goals since 2006, but he’s on the doorstep this season with 19 goals in 60 games with Columbus. He’ll give the Sabres some needed scoring punch and give Ryan Miller some support on the other side of the ice.

Of course, the Sabres would prefer to be able to re-sign Torres this summer (you’d think), but perhaps they won’t even have the chance.

The Hockey News scout Mike Seidel is saying that Torres is bragging that there’s no way he’ll sign a contract extension, because he plans on going to Toronto this summer. Talk about a player with a plan in mind. No wonder he was traded.

There’s a good possibility this is just hearsay and isn’t true but if it is, what sort of attitude will he have Buffalo? Is he just biding his time until he is able to return to his hometown?