Raffi Torres retires after controversial NHL career

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SAN JOSE, CA – APRIL 20: Raffi Torres #13 of the <a class="link rapid-noclick-resp" href="/nhl/teams/san/" data-ylk="slk:San Jose Sharks">San Jose Sharks</a> during a break in play against the <a class="link rapid-noclick-resp" href="/nhl/teams/los/" data-ylk="slk:Los Angeles Kings">Los Angeles Kings</a> in Game Two of the First Round of the 2014 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at SAP Center on April 20, 2014 in San Jose, California. (Photo by Rocky Widner/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Raffi Torres
SAN JOSE, CA – APRIL 20: Raffi Torres #13 of the San Jose Sharks during a break in play against the Los Angeles Kings in Game Two of the First Round of the 2014 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at SAP Center on April 20, 2014 in San Jose, California. (Photo by Rocky Widner/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Raffi Torres

Raffi Torres gave it one final shot but his body wouldn’t let him do it, so he’s decided to retire after 635 NHL games, 137 goals, three fines and five suspensions totaling 74 games.

Speaking to Michael Hayakawa of the Stouffville Sun-Tribune, Torres explained that while he felt good after rehabbing a knee that’s given him trouble for years, he just couldn’t keep up with the NHL pace any longer.

“It’s never easy to stop doing what you love to do,” he conceded. “I wanted to play one more year and when I went to Carolina I wanted to make sure I didn’t want to question myself. In the end I wanted to make sure if I could hold up or not.

“I had a good summer in training. But these days the game is a lot quicker. One week into camp my body wasn’t responding. Once the contact started…you can’t mimic game situations.”

Torres, 35, was the 5th overall pick in the 2000 NHL Draft by the New York Islanders. He was later dealt to the Edmonton Oilers in 2003 where he would establish himself at the NHL level. He would score 62 goals in his first three seasons there and help the franchise to within a game of the 2006 Stanley Cup.

Injuries would begin to hinder Torres over the next several seasons as he jumped from Edmonton to Columbus to Buffalo to Vancouver, where he would again be on the cusp of a Cup before the Canucks fell in seven games to the Boston Bruins.

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The 2010-11 season would see Torres get suspended for the first time in his career after a hit to the head of Oilers forward Jordan Eberle. A year later after moving on to the Phoenix Coyotes, he would receive a 21-game ban for a hit on Marian Hossa during the playoffs. The suspension originally handed down by Brendan Shanahan was for 25 games, but an appeal lowered it by four.

An even bigger suspension was to come during the 2015 preseason after Torres was handed a match penalty for an illegal check to the head of Jakob Silfverberg of the Anaheim Ducks. The NHL had enough and banned him for 41 games, one of the longest suspensions in league history.

Torres would accept the suspension and not appeal it. When he returned the Sharks assigned him to their AHL affiliate before dealing him to the Toronto Maple Leafs in February. He would announce days later that his season was done after undergoing another procedure to his knee.

No contract offers were to be accepted, so Torres agreed a tryout deal from the Carolina Hurricanes for the 2016 preseason. He told John Matisz of Post Media that his future could be summed up as “The Show or no.” He was released after playing two games.

What does the future hold for Torres now? According to Hayakawa, he “would like to re-enter the game at some point through serving as a role model to assist those possessing the same aspirations he once had who might have the potential to play in the NHL.”

If that doesn’t work out, Torres would make for a fine candidate to join the NHL’s Department of Player Safety considering his expertise in the area of dirty hits.

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Sean Leahy is the associate editor for Puck Daddy on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at puckdaddyblog@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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