On Saturday night, Raffi Torres did what Raffi Torres does.
He delivered a cheap shot, injuring a player.
Torres missed all of last season because of an ACL injury. But in his return to the ice, Torres targeted the head of Anaheim Ducks forward Jakob Silfverberg – during a preseason game.
Silfverberg left the game and did not return, and Torres received a match penalty for an illegal check to the head. Torres waived his right to an in-person hearing Sunday, and spoke w/ the League on Monday via telephone.
The hit on Silfverberg got the attention of a former teammate, who had no trouble calling Torres out as a dirty player.
“Same player every year,” Ryan Kesler told the Orange County Register. “I played with the guy. He needs to learn how to hit. That has no part in our game any more. He came from across the ice and only made contact with his head. Obviously hope Silfvy’s alright.”
This, of course, is the same Raffi Torres who received a 25-game suspension three years ago for nearly ending the career of Blackhawks forward Marian Hossa.
Torres was already a repeat offender at that point, having been banned for two games earlier in the 2011-12 season for this cheap shot.
After the post-Hossa suspension ended, Torres returned to the ice. He shouldn’t have, and repayed the NHL for reducing his sentence with yet another postseason suspension. This time, it was during the Western Conference Final.
After the hit on Jarret Stoll – two years ago – Yahoo’s Nicholas Cotsonika wrote that Torres, “just 44 games removed from one of the longest suspensions in NHL history… delivered another illegal check to the head that caused another brain injury – the exact type of check and the exact type of injury the league has made a major effort to reduce for the last three years.”
Two years ago, Cotsonika quoted Torres saying he needed to stop being an idiot and play the game.
Two years ago the League had already invested a great deal of time and money to educating players about how to hit, how not to hit, what would get you suspended and the effects of reckless hitting.
What we have seen over the last four years is a person – I won’t use the term hockey player because Torres doesn’t deserve it – who has no respect for the game or players. In his last three seasons, Torres has 10 goals and 13 assists in 43 games. He turns 34 on Thursday, and has had two postseasons personally cut short by lengthy suspensions.
He’s been suspended, fined or warned on NINE occasions by the NHL league office.
And all of them have been for hits to the head.
Shame on the NHL Players Association for appealing suspensions for this guy. The entire PA is in danger because this one guy runs around head-hunting. Protect your entirety, not one guy. Make Torres go away.
Shame on the San Jose Sharks for paying the guy.
Shame on the NHL for letting him back on the ice. Given the multi-million dollar concussion lawsuit(s) the league is currently dealing with, letting him put skates on for another game makes any defense they present in court hypocritical.
If the NHL is serious about getting dirty hits out of the game, they need to rid themselves of Torres for good. His pattern of disgusting behavior on the ice needs to end before another player get seriously hurt.
UPDATE: roughly one hour after this published, the NHL suspended Torres for 41 games – half of the regular season. A major stand by the League, but not enough. The fact that he’ll return means players on other teams still aren’t safe.