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.
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.
Sharks ‘cautiously optimistic’ Torres (knee) can participate in camp
Raffi Torres has played just 12 games over the last two years due to a myriad of knee problems.
But there is hope for his return.
“He’s heading in the right direction,” new Sharks head coach Peter DeBoer said this week, per CBS Sacramento. “[That’s] probably the best way I can term it. We’ll see. We’re all cautiously optimistic.”
The optimism, specifically, is for Torres to try and take the ice when San Jose’s camp begins on Friday, Sept. 18. Torres, who didn’t play at all last year and underwent season-ending knee surgery in February, is heading into the last of a three-year, $6 million deal with a $2 million average annual cap hit — a contract that, for the most part, he’s been unable to live up to.
Though it wasn’t for a lack of effort.
Torres initially had ACL replacement surgery in ’13-14 and worked hard to return, which he did during the club’s opening-round playoff collapse to Los Angeles. What followed, though, was a series of infections that led to a second ligament replacement procedure (the aforementioned February surgery.)
It’ll be very curious to see how Torres fares this season.
He turns 34 in October, hasn’t played in over 16 months and has to fight with a number of young wingers for minutes up front, including new Finnish rookie Joonas Donskoi who, according to AHL coach Roy Sommer, could be with the big club to start the season.