January 02, 2012
You had to know that, while Phoenix Coyotes' winger Raffi Torres probably deserved more than a fine for his hit on Jan Hejda last Thursday (not to mention, perhaps more than nothing for the one on Andrew Ference in the night before prior), it wouldn't be long before he gave Brendan Shanahan an opportunity to correct the oversight.
The dude loves to charge. He's like the exact opposite of Ferdinand the Bull. Another objectionable hit was on the way.
But in the very next game, a game he probably should have been sitting out with a suspension for basically the same thing? Now that's just plain annoying, and you can sense Shanahan's irritation as he explains why Torres has been suspended two games for his hit on Minnesota Wild defenseman Nate Prosser:
Shanahan leads with the explanation of why the hit is suspendable, and kudos to the department of player safety's audiovisual team for slowing it down to a crawl to show us the exact moment his feet leave the ice and this becomes an illegal hit. So sayeth Shanahan:
While players' skates often come off the ice after impact on a clean bodycheck, that is not the case here. Torres's skates leave the ice before contact is made and are well off the ice at the moment of impact. This is a clear violation of the charging rule...
Of course, the illegal hit is only one of two reasons that Torres is seeing a ban here. The other is that he's a repeat offender repeat offending (against a team that has suffered repeated offenses, amirite Wild fans?).
Something had to be done. Shanny, again:
It is important to note that this was the third game in a row that Torres has gotten the attention of the department of player safety for contact to the head. In fact only, hours before the Minnesota game, Torres was fined and warned against such actions. In addtion, Torres has been fined for illegal hits twice before in his 10-season NHL career and was suspended nine months ago for a similar play.
When the league disciplinarian is explaining that you're on a freaking illegal hit hot streak, you're in trouble.
Good call for Shanahan. A little late, but with Raffi Torres, that's not uncommon. The guy is quickly developing a reputation as Matt Cooke lite (but heavier).
Frankly, this seemed, to me, to be the friendliest of his three bad hits, but he was on borrowed time anyway. He can't possibly react too strongly to this decision -- unless that reaction involves changing his game.