Nothing else going on - Why Rafi Torres will have his suspension reduced

We all remember the hit, so I won't post any pics or links to youtube. If we take out the small group of people who are either rabid Yotes fans or who long for the days of Scott Stevens blindsiding/concussing anyone who dared cross the blue line with the puck on their stick, I think we probably have a pretty wide consensus that Torres deserved to be suspended. Not only did the hit violate three rules according to Shannaban, but Torres is a repeat offender who arguably lives to hurt people. Additionally, Hossa was hurt badly by the illegal hit, which is a dubious but openly known standard in Shanahan's regime. All that said, the real reason for the extra long suspension though, in my opinion, is that the NHL wanted to suspend him for exactly the length of games left in the playoffs if the Yotes were to go the distance. They wanted him gone for the playoffs so they wouldn't have to keep talking about it.

In general, I have not been overly annoyed by the job Shanhan has done. I think he started out decently and was lowering the boom early to make it clear the rules had changed. However, once he started to dish out the hefty suspensions, I believe he was told to start toning it down once GM's started seeing their "guys who play with an edge" getting sat for long stretches. There isn't a ton of sympathy for a guy like Torres, or Doan or Cooke or Carcillo for that matter, to get Shanahammered and I think we can all admit these guys frequently cross the line of dirty. Still, by dishing out 25 games to Torres, Shanhan has put himself in a trick bag and he will have to either walk this suspension back or start the next season with substantially less credibility. While I don't think he will become as bad as Coley the Clown, I do think that he, like his predecessor, will begin losing control of his job. If that does happen, I think the GM's and to a lesser degree the fans, will be largely to blame.

With respect to Torres, if the 25 game suspension sticks, what do you when (not if) he next violates the rules? How do you give him less? Do you ban him when he makes a marginal hit that doesn't injure someone? 25 games had that OOOOOOOH! factor, but it also relieved Shanahan of having to make an honest and objective decision on how much punishment Torres should receive. Like I said above, I believe quite frankly he didn't want to deal with fans or the media and keep talking about it. So, he drops the hammer, kicks him out for the rest of the playoffs, and moves on. I don't believe Torres presence or lack of it had anything to do with the Yotes not advancing in the big scheme of things, I mean, it's not like that team has a shortage of guys like him. That said, now that the season is truly over, will many people outside of Chicago really care if he sits 15 odd games next season? I think probably not and though that's annoying in it's own right, it's not what bothers me the most if the suspension is reduced.

Players don't get paid in the playoffs anyway. Whether it's 25 games or more, in essence, a playoff suspension does not hurt a player financially. More importantly, when a player like Torres wipes out a player like Hossa, you can rightly question which team loses more when Hossa can't return and is possibly never the same player. The punishment here does not seem to fit the crime no matter what angle you look at it from and if it stands, I believe we will see even less appropriate discipline next season and beyond. Walking it back is not going to make any Hawks fans happy, myself included to some degree, but it probably needs to be done if what we want to see is even handed discipline that ALL players will be subject to. As it stands, nobody whines much when a douchebag is sat for 8 games or greater. But what about a guy like Keith or a guy like Hossa who almost certainly would have been suspended two years ago if he was on the douchebag list. Different types of players will likely always get differing length suspensions, which isn't the worst thing in the world, but when you make it ridiculous in order to avoid taking heat for the punishment you decide, you only make it harder to deal with down the road.

While some wail about the pussification of the game, I think it's time to ban head shots altogether and start the first suspension at five games and keep doubling it until at some number of games you decide a player sits for a season or is banned. Maybe that fixes part of the problem, maybe not. The other big piece of it is what GM's and fans want. GM's don't want their star players concussed, but neither do they seem to want their "edge" players sat for making "A tough hockey play". As for fans, some like myself do not really enjoy watching players twitch on the ice like Han Solo in carbonite, while others wish we could see that every game. This disconnect makes discipline completely arbitrary. While calls like boarding are not as straightforward, head shots seem a lot less complicated. Would auto suspensions for head shots be too rigid and ruin the game because no one could ever "make a hard hockey play"? I say no.

Anyway, we got nuthin else to talk about right now. Will Torres get his suspension reduced or not?

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  • It looks pretty likely that it will get reduced.

    My opinions is that it should not, and I agree with most of your sentiment above.

    I like the idea of banning head hits all together, and using a very specific guideline as you just laid out, makes sense. 5 games the first time, 10 games the next, and so on (3,6,9, if that feels better). Everyone knows the situation and the cost, and has no way of complaining afterwards.

    If your goal is to go out there and end careers, then you sit and pay for it. If it happens too many times, you are done (maybe after 15 games, you miss a full season). Clear and simple. Unless in defense, if your hands are up, and you leave the ice, then you are trying to end careers, pure and simple. No one's hands belong that high anyway, and they all know it.

    This game is about intensity and grit, but I would prefer to say that it is the talent of the athletes which makes it a great game. And boy is this game fast, which is why these hits are so dangerous. It cannot be about dirty shots making a difference because a star is knocked out of the game.

    The Torres suspension was as much about sending a message as it was about justice. Send a message that is more clear this time, and make a guideline for head hits. Do whatever you want with that scum Torres, who obviously feels no remorse for the hit (if he did, he wouldn't be complaining). He will go out there and do it again, because it is all he has to offer. Well, the NHL doesn't want it Raffi. We want to watch our stars have long and successful careers.

    Absolutely no person should feel any sympathy because Torres is sitting a few more games than he probably should have, because a guy like him is dangerous, and he gets paid very well to injure people.

  • No, is the answer to your last question. No bloody way should this be reduced. If Bettman does reduce it, he best have some solid empirical data to support this, otherwise, he's just opening up a can of spam. If Torres can get off then everyone will appeal going forward. This, and the fact that if he reduces the suspension he's basically saying Shanahan is incompetent leads me to believe that Torres suspension will stand. The players should argue for more black and white rules regarding headshots in the new CBA.

    Whether or not 25 games is too much, and, whether or not he did this to send a message—as the playoffs were somewhat out of control at that time—or, whether or not he's had enough of Torres, or, was making up for messing up the call when Torres hit Seabrook last year, or, whatever, should make no difference. That was his ruling and to change it now would destroy what little credibility is left with the disciplinary reasoning of the NHL. Why am I surprised at that?

    I agree about standardized head shot rulings, but what really needs to change is that one man alone (Shanahan), should not be responsible for these decisions. Have someone representing the players, someone representing the league and maybe an ex-official making the decision by committee. All the facts are presented, all the rules are applied, they take a vote and look it up on the headshot severity charts and be done with it. If I was commish for a day that's what I'd do

  • I feel like sending a message was not Shanny's intention. Instead, I think he was more like one of those rage filled parents you see in a grocery store who lose their patience and smack their kid really hard. I think what he most wanted was to just remove him from the playoffs and 25 was the number needed to do that.

    If Bettman over rules him, I'd see it less as a vote of no confidence and much more a matter of Bettman doing the bidding of owners, who I still believe want it both ways. They want punishment when it's their player laid out, and they don't want too heavy of a judgement when it's their player who dishes out the damage. I think Shanahan has been caught in this already.

    I'd be okay with Torres getting banned for life, but now that the bar has been set at 25 games for a repeat offender, who do you deal with other players? That probably puts Carcillo one hit away from 25 himself. And now Keith will be a repeat offender as well. By doing this, I think he has put himself into a corner where he needs to suspend a lot of players next year and I don't think many people are going to be happy with that result.

    I like the triumvirate idea. I've seen variations of that and it makes a lot more sense then just Shanahan doing it.

  • In reply to VegasHawksFan:

    I think there will be changes made in the new CBA that quantifies the sentence for first, second, and third time offenses. Like we've said it will put everybody on the same playing field.

    Torerres was a repeat, repeat, repeat, and probably a repeat offender. So he deserved it.

  • Torrres will get the full 25 as otherwise Shanahan looks like a boob.

    New CBA should be simple. Concussed player's wages are paid by the offending player and his team. Bring on the lawyers to work out the ratio.

    Betcha head shots stop fast. If they don't, add the concussed players wages to the offending teams salary cap.

    Money talks.

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