Raffi Torres suspended indefinitely; NHL playoff violence scaring sponsors?

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Raffi Torres of the Phoenix Coyotes will not play in Thursday's Game 4 of their Western Conference quarterfinal series against the Chicago Blackhawks.

On Friday, we'll find out when he'll play again in this postseason, if at all.

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Torres was due to have an in-person disciplinary hearing with the NHL before Game 4, which has typically meant a minimum of a five-game suspension, for his hit on Marian Hossa on Tuesday night; a hit that made principal contact with the head, and sent Hossa out on a stretcher and to the hospital.

But Torres and the NHLPA, in a peculiar move, deferred the hearing until after Game 4, opting to be "suspended indefinitely" pending the hearing.

From the NHL:

Phoenix Coyotes forward Raffi Torres has been suspended indefinitely, pending an in-person hearing Friday, April 20, the National Hockey League's Department of Player Safety announced today. The hearing, which had been planned for today, was deferred at the request of the player and the National Hockey League Players' Association.

The hearing will be convened at the NHL's New York office for a hit Torres delivered to Chicago forward Marian Hossa 12:42 into the first period of Game 3 of the teams' Western Conference Quarterfinal series in Chicago on Tuesday, April 17.

Just spit-ballin' here, but considering the NHL's mantra has been to heavily weigh injuries in the punitive phase of supplemental discipline, perhaps the delay is to see if Hossa is able to go in Game 4, or at least to have a better understanding of the aftereffects of the injury, given that he left the hospital Tuesday night?

(UPDATE: Hossa is out for Game 4; and per Darren Dreger: "GM Don Maloney was willing to do hearing today. Agent and PA requested more time. Will still be mutli-game." [sic])

It may not matter, of course: Tuesday night's suspensions of James Neal, Arron Asham and Nicklas Backstrom weighed intent more than the results of their actions. Torres gets five as a minimum, but probably more.

Why? Because all of this suspension stuff might be making the NHL's sponsorship friends a little edgy.

Bruce Dowbiggin of the Globe & Mail heard from NHL COO John Collins, who said the suspensions and fines of this first round have them jittery:

"They're paying us a lot of money to associate with our brand," said Collins who came to the NHL from the NFL. "So when our brand is under attack in the press on issues as serious as player safety, they want to know that the league is on top of it and has a plan for dealing with it and hear the league articulate it. That feedback is always going to be there."

Have hockey's violent incidents so far this spring had an impact on the league's attempts to penetrate Corporate America?

"It affects the business, our ability to attract new fans, to grow the business, to attract other blue-chip advertisers and brands (who want) to associate with the games," said Collins, who joined the NHL five years ago. "It also affects our ability to attract casual fans who maybe haven't watched all year and now they're hearing the buzz about the game."

Uh, the casual fans won't watch games that promise chaos, violence and intensity?

The ratings this postseason disagree.

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