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2012 NHL Playoffs: Raffi Torres Suspension Needs to Send Crystal-Clear Message

CHICAGO, IL - APRIL 17:  Marian Hossa #81 of the Chicago Blackhawks is attended to following a collison with Raffi Torres of the Phoenix Coyotes in Game Three of the Western Conference Quarterfinals during the 2012 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at the United Center on April 17, 2012 in Chicago, Illinois. The Coyotes defeated the Blackhawks 3-2 in overtime.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
Joshua MoeschlCorrespondent IIIApril 20, 2012

The NHL suspended Phoenix Coyotes forward Raffi Torres indefinitely for a hit he levied on Blackhawks star Marion Hossa during Game 3 of the opening-round series.

Torres left his skates to hit Hossa in the head with his shoulder. Hossa didn't even have the puck when he was brutally side-swiped. 

The 2012 playoffs have been savage, to say the least. We have seen more game misconduct penalties so far this year than in all of 2011. 

So far this year, the NHL has been very lenient when handing down penalties. Players are getting more and more violent in their hits, and the NHL needed to step up.

They finally did.

Torres is a serial offender of the worst kind. He continually targets players' heads and often leaves his skates to do so. In fact, last season playing for Vancouver, Torres hit Blackhawks defenseman Brent Seabrook in a similar fashion, sending Seabrook to the dressing room. 

The NHL has been laughable in handing down suspensions in this year's playoffs, until they saw the Torres hit. He has been suspended indefinitely and has a hearing with the NHL today. Torres' only argument can be that there was no penalty called on him on the play. 

How a team of NHL officials missed that call is an anomaly and shouldn't play into the decision making. Sometimes a holding call is missed in the NFL and a touchdown results. Sometimes a foul is missed and an NBA team wins a game. It does happen. 

However, when the missed call in question is so egregious that action must be taken, the player in question must have his reputation considered when deciding on disciplinary action. Torres has been suspended three times in the last year alone, all for illegal head shots. 

The NHL made the right call so far in not letting Torres back on the ice until they can speak to him face-to-face. Unless something extraordinary happens in today's meeting, Torres needs to be suspended for the length of the 2012 playoffs. When a player is a repeat offender, a message needs to be sent. 

If it is not sent, the results could be catastrophic.

Since the Torres' hit and suspension, no player has levied a hit deserving of a suspension, indicating that his indefinite suspension has at least made other players take notice that intent to injure on the ice will not be tolerated. 

We'll see if the NHL is serious or not later this morning. 

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