Brendan Shanahan may have finally gotten it right.
Raffi Torres is someone I have written about before. Honestly, this suspension is too late for him, but I am pleased it finally happened. In December, Torres was both fined and suspended for incidents similar to this. In the suspension video, Shanahan admitted that Torres had been on his radar for a few previous games in a row for head shots. The morning prior to the game that resulted in a suspension, Torres was assessed a fine for his actions. That night, he earned himself a suspension.
Why would you continue to allow Torres to play when you saw him head shotting people for three games in a row? This makes zero sense in a climate where head shots are taking people out of the game at an epidemic rate?
Consistent with what I wrote earlier this season that designed a road map for supplemental discipline and programs that teach and promote player safety, this suspension is what Torres needs. He has made a career of playing a reckless and dangerous game and his previous discipline has not sent him a message at all.
In fact, the only person who seems to have learned a thing about player safety is Matt Cooke. Cooke served a 17 game suspension last season. He was to serve the last 10 games of the regular season and the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs, in which the Penguins were eliminated in the first round after seven games played.
The message from the Penguins was for Matt to clean it up and he did. It took paying a large price for him to get the message. He worked hard in the off season through various methods to re-learn to play hockey and has been extremely successful. If anyone needs advice on how to play hard, contribute to your team and still be physical, give Cookie a call.
The Coyotes General Manager Don Maloney released this statement today:
“The ruling is very severe for Raffi and our Hockey Club. Raffi plays a hard, physical game yet this contact crossed the line on what is acceptable in our game today. We hope Marian Hossa makes a full and speedy recovery as we all enjoy watching him perform. The Club accepts the NHL’s decision and will focus on our game tonight.”
That is great that they are supportive of of the NHL’s decision, but what of Torres for this future play? Will they come down on him?
Apparently not, given the statement from Torres himself:
“My main concern is for the healthy recovery of Marian Hossa, and I hope that he will be able to get back on the ice to compete again soon. I sincerely regret injuring Marian. Regarding the severity of the suspension issued, I will take the next few days to decide whether or not to appeal the decision.”
Yes, you should regret injuring him, but take a hard look at your history and the other people whom you have hurt and the fact that this particular style of hit is consistent with your “style of play.”
The excuse of “that’s just how he plays” is to no longer be tolerated. Do you have to kill a man on the ice in order to get the point that the way you play is a danger to your colleagues?
I agree with the decision to suspend Torres for such a significant period of time. For those of you who are new to my blog, you can read my previous article System Needed for NHL Suspensions. There is still no real standard or method here and it needs to change. Word from most players in the NHL today is that they are confused by Torres’s suspension as far of the amount of games. Why? Because no one really gets what constitutes a heavy penalty compared with one game or a fine. It is all up to Shanahan and his Wheel of (In)Justice.
There is still work to be done.