Midway through the first period of Game 3, Torres leveled Marian Hossa with a vicious check that left Hossa lying helplessly on the ice. Five minutes later, Hossa was taken off the ice on a stretcher and rushed to hospital.
Although it’s debatable whether the hit was late, Torres certainly leaves his feet and makes direct contact with Hossa’s head. While the NHL has been anything but consistent with suspensions in the playoffs, we know they don’t like star players missing time.
Torres has a history of fines and suspensions stemming from a variety of dirty hits. At the end of last season, he delivered an elbow to Edmonton Oilers' Jordan Eberle’s head and was given a five minute major and a game misconduct. The league suspended Torres for four games, two of which were in the playoffs.
In his first game back from suspension, Torres flattened unsuspecting Chicago Blackhawks' Brent Seabrook behind his goal. Torri received a two-minute minor for interference, but was not suspended.
This season Torres has become well acquainted with the NHL’s new disciplinarian, Brendan Shanahan. On December 29th, Torres elbowed Colorado’s Jan Hejda and was handed a $2,500 fine. The following game, Torres launched himself into Minnesota’s Nate Prosser and was suspended for two games.
Torres has no excuse for his latest infraction. The league has warned him on multiple occasions that this type of hit will not be tolerated.
Expect Shanahan to hand out the longest suspension of the playoffs based on the below three factors.
First, Torres has a messy history which includes multiple suspensions for similar hits.
Second, Marian Hossa’s injuries could be very severe. Although Hossa was released from hospital Tuesday night, there is obviously a strong possibility that he sustained a concussion on the play.
Finally, the league itself will review the hit. Again, Torres clearly leaves his feet and hits Hossa high, shoulder to head. The league could also deem it to be a late hit.
The playoffs have been filled with dirty plays that have garnered suspensions. This, however, should stand out as the most significant suspension of the playoffs.
The NHL dropped the ball on the Weber and Carkner incidents, but it won't here. Raffi Torres clearly hasn’t learned what hits are unacceptable. For that, the NHL will finally send a message to show that hits to the head will not be tolerated. Don’t be surprised if Torres doesn’t suit up again in this year’s playoffs.