With 4-game ban, NHL makes Raffi Torres its playoff scarecrow

As we've said in previous cases involving suspensions for the postseason: Playoff games are often viewed as being "worth" two regular-season games in NHL circles. So the four-game suspension for Vancouver Canucks winger Raffi Torres is, in essence, six games for this hit to the head of Jordan Eberle of the Edmonton Oilers on Tuesday night:

Torres will forfeit $10,752.68 in salary. He was given five minutes for elbowing, five for fighting and a game misconduct; Eberle told the media he didn't suffer an injury on the play.

This is, to say the least, as political a suspension as we've seen from the NHL in 2010-11, at least for a player not named Gillies or Cooke.

It's a scarecrow standing near the gate to the Stanley Cup Playoffs, reminding players that the NHL (a) has shifted the responsibility for a hit like this to the hitter and (b) is serious about increasing the penalties for plays that involve principal contact with the head.

From the Vancouver Sun, which supports the suspension as an example to others:

Torres feels his hit on Jordan Eberle was clean. Last year, it would have been. Elbow tucked in, no charge, no stick, Eberle near the puck. The problem is, Eberle didn't see Torres coming from the blindside and, bent low to reach for the puck, it was his head that absorbed first contact. That's not legal. More than that, it's not sensible. It's dangerous and even Torres admits he saw exactly how vulnerable was the Oiler and he finished his check anyway.

People are hung up on arguments of legality, just as the NHL has been for too long.

Thing is, the NHL has ignored legality and precedent several times this season to make a point. It's not just with Trevor Gillies or with Matt Cooke; it's in those early season suspensions to stars like Shane Doan (for this hit) and Joe Thornton in order to bring attention to Rule 48's introduction.

So we can either celebrate that message-sending as the Vancouver Sun does, or we can bemoan the fact that the NHL threw the book at Torres (playoff games!) for a play that, frankly, doesn't look like a six regular-season game suspension from where we sit.

Agree or disagree with two regular-season and two playoff games for Torres?

What to Read Next