Apparently, NHL disciplinarian Brendan Shanahan had heard enough criticism hurled his way from fans and media pundits for the alleged violence that has run ramped the the first round of the 2012 NHL playoffs.
Shanahan came down hard on Raffi Torres, suspending the Phoenix Coyotes forward for 25 games for his hit to the head of Marian Hossa during Game 3 of the Blackhawks-Coyotes Western Conference quarterfinal playoff series in Chicago.
“The ruling is very severe for Raffi and our Hockey Club,” Phoenix Coyotes general manager Don Maloney said. ”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.”
The lengthy suspension once again reinforces that the NHL will not tolerate players targeting the head of an opposing player. Torres also had several other factors working against him, the most notable being he has two previous suspensions in the past 13 months. He received a four-game suspension for a hit against Edmonton’s Jordan Eberle in April, 2011 and was assessed two games for charging Minnesota’s Nate Prosser in December.
On the hit, Torres also managed to violate three different rules—interference, charging and an illegal check to the head—and, as Shanhan points out, he left his feet, which is also a big no-no:
“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 decision, like the hit, is sure to stir up some controversy, but the early consensus is that this was the correct punishment to hand out in the the NHL’s seemingly endless pursuit to eliminate head shots.