If there’s ever been a layup suspension, Brendan Shanahan’s got one in Raffi Torres.
On second thought, maybe slam-dunk is a better metaphor than layup. Because let’s face it, if he so chooses, Shanahan could tomahawk jam and shatter the backboard with the Coyotes forward who sent Marian Hossa to the hospital last night.
Torres is a multiple repeat offender (James Mirtle of the Globe and Mail calls him a “rerererepeat offender”) that nobody’s going to feel sorry for if Shanahan errs on the side of harsh in his ruling.
Of course, that would open up another avenue of criticism for the embattled league disciplinarian, as there will be those who say he only throws the book at non-essential players. But the alternative, that being leniency, would be far worse for the NHL’s reputation. Suffice to say the media would have a field day with that.
The biggest challenge for Shanahan will be to hand out what he considers a just sentence in the face of so many screaming bloody murder, because you could easily argue there have been worse offenses this season than what we saw last night.
In fact, according to Sportsnet.ca’s Michael Grange, one NHLer thought Torres’ hit was “clean, if a bit late.”
Nor was Torres’ hit premeditated like, say, Duncan Keith’s elbow on Daniel Sedin.
And what’s Hossa’s prognosis? Yes, he went to the hospital, but was he actually seriously hurt? We still don’t know. (Update: Hossa will miss Game 4.)
At this point, it’s impossible to say how long Torres will be suspended. Which come to think of it, might perfectly illustrate the NHL’s problem.