Torres suspended for remainder of Western Conference semifinals

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San Jose forward Raffi Torres has been suspended a minimum of three and maximum of six games for his hit on Los Angeles’ Jarret Stoll during Game 1 of the Sharks-Kings Western Conference semifinal.

In an unique ruling, the NHL’s Department of Player Safety chose to suspend Torres for the remainder of the second playoff round, rather than a fixed number of games.

(Unique, but not precedent-setting: Matt Cooke was suspended for the first round of the 2011 playoffs.)

As for the reasoning behind the decision?

“Rather than hit Stoll through the core of his body, Torres take a route that makes Stoll’s head the principal point of contact,” discipline czar Brendan Shanahan explained. “Although we agree that Torres might make initial contact with Stoll’s shoulder, that is a glancing blow.

“In fact, the head is the principal point of contact.”

Shanahan also noted that, if Torres wants to make a hit in this situation, he needs to “take a route that ensures he hits through the core of [Stoll’s] body.” Torres’ history as a repeat offender also played into the decision.

Here’s the full video explanation:

The hit, which occurred with less than a minute remaining in the second period, netted Torres a two-minute charging minor.

After the game, San Jose head coach Todd McLellan disagreed with the call, saying Torres’ hit wasn’t illegal.

“Clean hit,” McLellan told ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun. “Wasn’t even a charging penalty, in my opinion.”

Stoll left the game after the hit and didn’t return for the third period. He was held out of Thursday’s Game 2.

As for Torres, he was of the same mindset as McLellan.

“I didn’t really think it was even going to be a penalty,” he said to CSN Bay Area. “They called it charging, I don’t think I launched myself. I took a step and a half, and glided into him.

“Obviously he was leaning over, and I still feel like I got a shoulder to his shoulder, and then it kind of looked because he was leaning over that I came up a little high. I didn’t even think it was going to be a penalty, but I hope he’s alright.”

Torres’ disciplinary history is well documented.

He was suspended 25 games (reduced to 21) for hitting Chicago’s Marian Hossa during last year’s playoffs and, prior to that, suspended for charging Minnesota’s Nate Prosser (two games) and elbowing Edmonton’s Jordan Eberle (four games).

UPDATE: TSN’s Bob McKenzie points out that, if the series goes seven games, Torres will have served a six game suspension — and under the new CBA, suspensions of six games or more can be appealed to an independent arbitrator.

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