NHL Playoffs: Raffi Torres Must Get Lengthy Suspension for Marian Hossa Hit
In case you missed it, at 11:51 of game three of the Chicago Blackhawks vs. Phoenix Coyotes, Coyotes forward Raffi Torres came across the ice to throw a devastating hit on an unaware Marian Hossa of the Blackhawks in front of the Chicago bench.
The hit was so traumatic that a Blackhawks trainer hopped over the boards to the aid of Hossa—all while play was still going on—before the referees blew the play dead.
Marian Hossa was immediately placed upon a stretcher and carted directly to a local Chicago hospital. There was no penalty awarded, although Torres both left his feet and hit a player out of said play.
This is not even close to the first instance of Raffi Torres' undisciplined play in the NHL. The feisty forward took Blackhawks star defenceman Brent Seabrook out on a head shot exactly one year ago to the day as a member of the Vancouver Canucks in their opening round series against Chicago.
Torres was not handed any further discipline for that hit. Prior to that, Torres had just returned from a four-game suspension after a hit deemed dirty on Edmonton Oilers forward Jordan Eberle.
Other than the suspension for his hit on Eberle, Torres has only been suspended one more time in his career—an illegal charge early in 2012 on Minnesota Wild defenceman Nate Prosser just one game after receiving a fine for this hit on Colorado's Jan Hejda.
Torres however, has been fined and warned many times in his career and is clearly a repeat offender.
There is something that has been made clear to Torres in his past—this type of play will not be tolerated.
With the way the playoffs have played out to date in this the first round, there is no doubt that Brendan Shanahan will be giving Torres a call following the conclusion of tonight's game to schedule an in-person hearing with the Coyotes forward.
NHL's chief player disciplinarian has been blamed for overshadowing the first round with all of his supplementary discipline thus far.
However, after Shanahan missed the chance to make an example of a player by giving Shea Weber a slap on the wrist and a $2500 fine for his punch to the back of the head of Detroit's Henrik Zetterberg, he may have missed the boat on scaring players away from the edgy theme of the 2012 playoffs.
This unfortunate incident that has left Hossa's status going forward unknown gives the NHL another chance to make a statement.
However, it should not just be a warning to players across the league, but also a final straw in the warnings and minimal suspensions for Torres.
Too often he has come up in the conversation of head shots and dangerous play for him to still feel okay with continuing in that manner. The league must make sure he understands his antics will no longer be tolerated.
Expect Torres to receive at minimum a five- to six-game suspension for this hit—possibly even more.
The length of it, however, might be affected by the fact that no penalty was assessed on the ice.
This, though, would be Torres' third suspension and his repeat-offender status will be taken into account for the length of his suspension.
Shanahan more recently has taken into account whether the player receiving the hit was injured on the play, so dependant on Hossa's state of health, this could also factor into the length of the suspension. (Update: Hossa has since been released from hospital, as per Chris Kuc of the Chicago Tribune, source).
Either way, Raffi Torres should be suspended for at least the remainder of this first round series.
And should the Coyotes defeat the Blackhawks, then further into the playoffs also.
John Bain is a Bleacher Report Featured Columnist
Follow John on Twitter: @JohnBainSports
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