The NHL was not going to have it again.
Just over one year after Raffi Torres was suspended for a vicious hit on Chicago Blackhawks forward Marian Hossa, he was again suspended again for a far lesser hit on the Los Angeles Kings’ Jarret Stoll.
Torres was suspended for the remainder of the series Thursday, and Stoll will likely miss Game 2 in Los Angeles.
Here is the official announcement from the NHL:
San Jose Sharks forward Raffi Torres has been suspended for the remainder of the Western Conference Semifinals for an illegal hit to the head of Los Angeles Kings forward Jarret Stoll during Game 1 of the series in Los Angeles on Tuesday, May 14, the National Hockey League’s Department of Player Safety announced today.
The incident occurred at 19:02 of the second period. Torres was assessed a minor penalty for charging. Under the terms of the Collective Bargaining Agreement, Torres is considered a repeat offender.
The “repeat offender” part of the announcement appears to be the real reason behind the suspension. Although the result was not what anyone intended, Torres did not leave his feet, nor did he intend to strike the head of Stoll.
The hit was simply playoff hockey at its finest: a gritty hit on a defenseless player who was careless in his awareness on the ice for just a split second. It cost Stoll at least a game away from competition, but left Torres without a say in the series at all.
The Sharks caught the far worse end of it, though.
Torres' reputation as a dirty player factored into his suspension. Even after he declared himself a changed man on the ice, his past comes back to bite him, and it will bite the Sharks as well.
San Jose is now behind the eight ball in the series against the surging Kings, who are finding their stride at the right time. Los Angeles shut out the Sharks in Game 1 behind a stellar performance from goalie Jonathan Quick, who has suddenly returned to lockdown mode between the pipes.
Torres gave the Sharks a gritty player that every opponent had to pay attention to when on the ice. Now without him, they will have to look elsewhere for someone who can apply the same intense pressure to the opposing team.
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