Everyone remembers Raffi Torres' dirty head shot on Marian Hossa in last season's playoff game. After the hit, many hockey fans and observers questioned whether Brendan Shanahan and company would have the guts to do the right thing, and hand out a lengthy suspension. They delivered, and suspended Torres for 25 games.
The Coyotes played 13 more games, as they reached the Western Conference Finals, so Torres had 12 games remaining on the suspension at the end of the season.
Today, the NHL announced that Commissioner Gary Bettman has reduced the suspension by 4 games. Here's the direct quote from the Bettman release :
"This type of on-ice conduct cannot and will not be tolerated in the National Hockey League," Commissioner Bettman said. "We have seen similar behavior before from Mr. Torres and, particularly given the League's heightened scrutiny on hits to the head, I believe that a very significant penalty is warranted in this case. We hope and expect that the severity of this incident, and the League’s response to it, will help prevent any similar incident from occurring in the future."
If you read the entire release, Bettman never acknowledges the original suspension. He talks tough in the above quote, yet offers no reason for the suspension reduction.
I don't really understand the point or philosophy in reducing the suspension of a known head hunter, dirty player, and repeat offender. What message is that sending the league? To borrow a line from the great Bruce Arthur, "(I) really hope Marian Hossa's concussion was also reduced by the NHL on appeal."
Shanahan did the right thing when he issued the suspension. Now his commissioner goes around his back and lets Torres off the hook? It doesn't make sense. I guess it shouldn't come as a surprise from Bettman, who is as out of touch with his sport as any commissioner in sports.
In an odd "coincidence", the Coyotes meet the Blackhawks in their 7th game of the season. Torres will miss Dan Carcillo, Brandon Bollig and Jamal Mayers by one game.