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For Raffi Torres, it's the same old story. And it might just have the same old ending, too.
Torres was penalized two minutes for charging following a hit on Jarret Stoll in Game 1 of the Western Conference Semifinals between the San Jose Sharks and Los Angeles Kings. Here's the hit in question:
Not surprisingly, the NHL Disciplinary Committee has scheduled an in-person hearing with Torres, according to Nick Kypreos of Sportsnet:
Nick Kypreos @RealKyper
#NHL news. An in-person hearing has been requested by the league for #Sharks Raffi Torres. Meaning another lengthy suspension is possibility2013-5-15 17:25:09
It's likely that Torres will end up seeing something along the lines of a two-game suspension for that hit. While this wasn't nearly as vicious as some of Torres' other notorious blows, it still wasn't a legal check.
Over at TSN, former NHL referee Kerry Fraser explains why:
Taking into account the significant contact to the head, as well as the fact that Torres does not hit Stoll through the body, he does not succeed with his attempt to make a legal check.
- In summary, this was an illegal check to the head.
- Stoll was ultimately injured as a result of this hit (did not return for the third period).
- Torres has been suspended during his career.
As Fraser explains, while there doesn't appear to be malicious intent in this hit and Torres neither launches nor raises his elbow, Torres took a poor route to Stoll and, ultimately, didn't make contact with enough of the body to avoid making the head the primary point of impact.
And Fraser used a former ruling—Eric Gryba's hit on Lars Eller and subsequent two-game suspension earlier this postseason—when analyzing this collision.
Unfortunately for Torres, his reputation in such matters precedes him.
He was suspended 25 games (which was eventually reduced to 21 games) for his hit on Marian Hossa in last year's playoffs.
He's also been suspended two games for a hit on Nate Prosser...
...And four games for a blow delivered to Jordan Eberle.
Now, it's not fair to only judge this hit based on Torres' past. He's made a concerted effort to clean up his game this season, and this particular hit seemed to be a failure to adhere to the game's rules rather than an attempt to maim Stoll.
But when you into account all of the factors that are considered when doling out suspensions—intent, legality of the hit, prior indiscretions, whether the player who was hit was injured or not, whether there was a blow to the head in the collision—it sure appears as though Torres is staring down a suspension.
Thus, a one- or two-game suspension seems justified, with a two-game penalty perhaps bordering on the harsh and no suspension at all understandable, if not mildly surprising.
And unlike his previous hits, I don't think Torres should be vilified here. This was an illegal hit, not a dirty one, if that makes sense. The hit would have been a legal one had Torres taken a better route and not made such direct contact to the head.
A suspension is likely to come. A public beheading isn't necessary.