The Phoenix Coyotes‘ Raffi Torres was suspended for 25 games for his hit on The Chicago Blackhawks‘ Marian Hossa. It’s been announced that he will appeal that long of sentence, the second longest to ever be handed out in the NHL. Raffi isn’t fighting the fact that he violated rules with the hit, or whether or not he deserves to be suspended, but he is fighting the length of the suspension. And with good reason. I have mentioned before my thoughts on the Shanahan inconsistency era.
There is no question that Raffi Torres deserves suspension. He charged into Marian Hossa, he left his feet, he made Hossa’ s head the main point of contact. As violent as this was, it might be different if this was his first offense. But it’s not. Raffi Torres is a repeat offender. He has been brought up to the Department Of Player Safety five times in the past for similar hits. There is no excuse for this. Head shots have got to stop. Period. Concussions are given enough in the regular flow of the game, we don’t need intentional head shots making things worse. They aren’t just headaches that get you out of a few games, they can end your career. They have always been an issue, just take a look at my all time favorite NHLer, Brian Bradley. However, they seem to be more apparent now, and something needs to happen.
NHLPA executive director Donald Fehr and general counsel Don Zavelo made clear that Torres is only appealing the length of his suspension, not whether the hit violated the rules or the fact that he deserved to be suspended.
The rules in violation, as explained in the Shanaban video are as follows:
Rule 56 Interference
The last player to touch the puck, other than the goalkeeper, shall be considered the player in possession. The player deemed in possession of the puck may be checked legally, provided the check is rendered immediately following his loss of possession.
Rule 42 Charging
A minor or major penalty shall be imposed on a player who skates or jumps into or charges an opponent in any matter.
Rule 48 Illegal Check To The Head
A hit resulting in contact with an opponent’s head, where the head is targeted and the principal point of contact, is not permitted.
Claude Giroux was suspended for one game for an illegal check to the head. He is not a repeat offender. There was no injury. (Same circumstances with Webber, but I’m not going to go off on that on again.)
Alex Ovechkin left his feet for a hit. Though they say it’s undetermined, it looks like the head is the point of contact to me. He is a repeat offender. He faces nothing. The Sporting News explains his hit in detail, and why he won’t be facing punishment.
Raffi Torres does have some valid points to bring up to NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman. According to USA Today, the NHLPA positions are:
• The 25-game suspension is excessive and arbitrary — it is more than double the length of any ever issued by Shanahan and is one of the longest suspensions in the history of the NHL.
• Shanahan denied Torres’ request to show video evidence at his disciplinary hearing about how similar or worse hits have been treated in the past. He is asking for an in-person appeal hearing so that he can present this evidence to the commissioner.
Brendan Shanahan as not been consistent and now it may come back to bite him. I’m not the only one complaining about his inconsistency. There are a number of people questioning his position and speculating on what needs to be done. I’ll be surprised if he is still in office next season. If he does still carry this position, he really needs to be consistent. Set a boundary as far as what warrants a suspension, and how many. If they are a repeat offender, that should be an automatic 3 games right there. If they are a first time, depending on the severity of it, should be a stiff fine or suspension. No getting away with it. Punishment can’t go bouncing around from nothing at all, to a fine, to a 3 game suspension for the same circumstances surrounding the same rule violation. The NHL Department of Player Safety needs to come up with a system, and stick to it. This isn’t just some anger on the ice and a beef between players. This could be someone’s career, even their life. I personally feel that Raffi Torres should be forced out of the NHL. He has way too many violations for head shots. He is a ticking time bomb, and I feel sorry for the player on the opposing end of his rage when he explodes.
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