It looks like the National Hockey League is trying to make an example of Phoenix Coyotes player Raffi Torres. And so it should.
The NHL whacked him in the head with a 25-game suspension for taking an illegal shot at Marian Hossa, striking the Blackhawks player directly in the head Tuesday night.
Torres appears to like sending his opponents to the hospital. According to Sporting News, Torres is “a repeat offender who violated three rules and injured Hossa.” In fact, Torres has been fined and suspended several times before.
Just like the National Football League, the NHL has been under pressure to protect its players from head injuries. The NHL has warned its players to abide by the rules regarding blows to the head. The league has been criticized for not imposing tough enough punishment. This 25-game suspension is an indication that the NHL means business.
Here is exactly what the NHL said in suspending Torres Saturday.
Following are statements from National Hockey League Senior Vice President of Player Safety and Hockey Operations Brendan Shanahan sin announcing the 25-game suspension assessed to Phoneix Coyotes forward Raffi Torres:
“This is a violation of three NHL rules – interference, charging and illegal check to the head.”
“In addition to the fact that three separate NHL rules were violated with this one hit, two other factors were critical in determining the appropriate length of suspension:
“First, this violent and dangerous hit caused a severe injury.
“Second, Torres not only is a repeat offender as defined by the CBA, his extensive Supplemental Discipline history consists mainly of acts very similar to this one – including two this season.”
“Despite knowing that Hossa no longer has the puck, Torres decides to finish his check past the amount of time when Hossa is eligible to be bodychecked. That is a violation of the Interference rule.”
“While we acknowledge the circumstances of certain hits may cause a player’s skates to come off the ice, on this hit, Torres launches himself into the air before making contact. This is a violation of the Charging rule.”
“The position of Hossa’s head does not change just prior to or simultaneous with this hit. The onus, therefore, is on Torres not to make it the principal point of contact. By leaping, Torres makes Hossa’s head the principal point of contact. That is a violation of the Illegal Check to the Head rule.”
Torres issued his own statement, as well.
“My main concern is for the healthy recovery of Marian Hossa, and I hope that he will be able to get back on the ice to compete again soon. I sincerely regret injuring Marian.
Regarding the severity of the suspension issued, I will take the next few days to decide whether or not to appeal the decision.”
And Coyotes General Manager Don Maloney had a statement, as well.
“I want to thank Brendan Shanahan and his staff for their thorough review of this incident,” said Maloney. “The ruling is very severe for Raffi and our Hockey Club. Raffi plays a hard, physical game yet this contact crossed the line on what is acceptable in our game today. We hope Marian Hossa makes a full and speedy recovery as we all enjoy watching him perform. The Club accepts the NHL’s decision and will focus on our game tonight.”