Sit down, Raffi! We’ll see you in Game 3.
Photo: Andy Devlin, NHLI via Getty Images
The NHL handed Raffi Torres a four game suspension for this hit Tuesday on Jordan Eberle. While many Canucks’ fans are in an uproar about the length of the suspension, I am not one of them.
The league finally got this suspension right. So Canucks fans, stop blaming the NHL for its ruling. Blame Raffi Torres for his stupid, reckless, unnecessary play and costing his team for the next four games, including the first two games of this year’s playoffs.
The NHL suspended Raffi Torres four games for his blind-side elbow to the head of Jordan Eberle. It was a perfect example of a violation of NHL’s Rule 48, prohibiting blind-side hits to the head. Let me be clear about my stance on this ruling.
Raffi Torres deserved the suspension he received. This hit was reckless, dangerous, avoidable and a direct violation of the rule stated above. Therefore, he deserved what he got.
Canucks fans are up in arms because of the inconsistency in the NHL’s ruling on similar plays. Ok, I can somewhat understand that. But you can’t be mad that they finally got a ruling correct. The fact that Dany Heatley received a 2-game suspension for his hit on Steve Ott while Torres received four games is bizarre and questionable and highly inconsistent. But it should not be considered here, if we are to look at Torres’ hit in an isolated manner. If we are to look at each infraction objectively, then we must look at it first as an isolated incident, without influence from other similar plays. Now, I know that you HAVE to look at other rulings in order to provide a measuring stick. And I know for sure that you have to use a player’s previous indiscretions as a means of determining if he is a repeat offender. But to determine if the incident was suspendable or not, you have to look at it in a bubble.
This elbow WAS suspendable. So let’s move on.
Now the play itself likely warranted 2-3 games as a suspension. However, the fact is that the next two games mean nothing to Torres or the Canucks. There is literally NOTHING on the line for the Canucks. So the NHL had to make the team suffer a bit for the transgretion. So he would likely have gotten 3 games, to punish the Canucks and Torres at least one playoff game when it actually matters.
Furthermore, Torres has shown absolutely no contrition for this play. Quite the opposite, actually. He is adamant that it was a legal hit, that it was a "hockey play", and that he needs to make that play if he wants to keep his job. Wrong, wrong and wrong. It was not a legal hit, it was not a hockey play, and if he wants to keep his job in the NHL, score goals and hit people legally. So Torres’ insistence that this play was legal and that he refused to apologize for it, nor acknowledge the potential illegality of it likely added another game to his suspension. I have no problem with that. If he had simply apologized, and admitted it was an illegal hit, and talked to Eberle for beaning him in the skull with his elbow, Torres is likely only missing 1 playoff game.. maybe none. Maybe he only sits for the final two regular season games.
But the fact is that he has to be held responsible for his hit and so does his hockey club. And now they are. Don’t focus on the fact that the NHL has made a habit of screwing up their inability to suspend players for obvious infractions. You only have to understand that they finally got this one right.
So Raffi, you got what you deserved. Now, sit down for four games. We’ll see you in Game 3 of the first round. You had better come out on a mission to make amends. And you had better hope that your reckless play doesn’t cause your team to go down 0-2 in the first round before you even get to play a game.