Yes, the league came down hard on Phoenix Coyotes forward Raffi Torres. He was suspended for 25 games for his hit to the head of Marian Hossa in Game 3 of the Western Conference Quarterfinals. It's the third-longest suspension (in terms of games) in league history.
But make no mistake about it—Torres and his team win in the end.
That's because as a one-for-one trade, I'll take Marian Hossa over Torres any day of the week. And face it, that's what this boils down to.
Perhaps I'm giving Torres too much credit here, but he may have known he would likely get suspended when his skates left the ice to deliver that vicious and illegal hit to the Blackhawks' star.
But at least he knew he would be taking out one of Chicago's better offensive threats.
Think about this, too. By the referees doing their best Stevie Wonder act and not calling a penalty, the Coyotes didn't have to face a major that would have resulted in a long power play opportunity for the Hawks. And while Chicago has been awful on the PP this season, these games have been so tight that any goals are huge in this series.
In fact, it was the Coyotes who were given a power play as a result of the fight that ensued after the play.
Now, I'm not going to go into details about the hit itself. If you think even for a moment that this was not an ugly, brutal and reprehensible play by Torres then you are either not being honest with yourself or you're a fool.
This goes beyond whether you are a fan of the Coyotes or the Hawks, this is black and white. Torres is lucky that the rules don't call for the police to be able to come in and haul his sorry ass off to the pokey for such a crime.
So, for the fools, please stop reading, there is nothing I can do to help you. Go get professional assistance. And for those of you in denial, consider this: the NHL doesn't need this kind of goonery at a time when they are trying to clean up the sport and make it more attractive to grow the sport.
Look, this is not even a "meatball" discussion. I'm not saying that fighting should be legislated out of the game, though there are certainly people much wiser than I who are calling for that. I happen to enjoy a good fist fight now and then, call me what you will.
But no, this kind of cowardice act goes far beyond the issue of violence in sports. This is not about the globalization of the sport, or even long-term injury consequences, though that is obviously a major concern following such a brutal hit.
This is about fairness and justice. And in this case there is none for the Hawks, no matter how long the suspension is.
The fact that Torres is suspended does not really help Chicago too much. Other than the fact that without Torres on the ice they can avoid the temptation to retaliate, his presence does not equal what Hossa brings to the Blackhawks.
So, to provide some semblance of equality, I suggest that we change the rules such that when one player commits such a stupid act, not only does he gets suspended, but also one other player on his squad does too. That way, there might be more peer pressure from a player's own teammates to stop being such a reckless idiot.
This is not the first rodeo for Torres. He's targeted the head of an opponent at least five other times. This is a player who has no business even being in the league. The NHL would be so much better without guys like him.
But the NHL did the best they could do in terms of punishing Torres under the current rules. Yet for anyone to suggest the suspension was too severe should remember that the Hawks lost the better player, no penalty was called and Torres wasn't even fined for the hit, though he could lose money if the suspension bleeds into next year.
Phoenix will most likely move on in this hockey series while the Blackhawks go home. That's not because of this hit, the Hawks have plenty of blame to go around. But they are losers in two ways because of Torres, and that stinks.
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