CHICAGO – Chicago Blackhawks forward Marian Hossa was taken off the ice on a stretcher and briefly hospitalized after being hit by Phoenix’s Raffi Torres in the first period of Game 3 of their opening-round playoff series on Tuesday night.
Hossa was near the boards at centre ice and had just turned and passed the puck when Torres left his skates and delivered a late shot with his shoulder that knocked Hossa to the ice. Hossa was down for about five minutes as medical personnel rushed immediately to his side, and then was taken off of the ice.
It was the latest ugly incident in a young playoff season that has seen seven suspensions handed out in just over a week. Torres’ hit—which will almost certainly be reviewed by the league—was witnessed live by league commissioner Gary Bettman, who was in the stands for the game.
Hossa, who led the Blackhawks with 77 points this season, was taken to the hospital and released Tuesday night, the Blackhawks said. He is expected to recover completely, but there is no timetable for his return.
“After initial evaluation on the ice, (Hossa) was taken by ambulance to the hospital for further testing, which yielded encouraging results,” team physician Dr. Michael Terry said in a statement given by the Blackhawks after Chicago’s 3-2 overtime loss. “He has been released from the hospital and we are monitoring him closely at home.”
Torres said after the game that he hoped Hossa is all right, but added “as far as the hit goes, I felt like it was a hockey play. I was just trying to finish my hit out there.”
When asked if he felt he left his skates, Torres said “I’m not going to answer that.” He then left a scrum when asked if he thought he was going to be suspended.
Seconds after the hit, Chicago’s Brandon Bolig was given a 10-minute misconduct for roughing.
Chicago coach Joel Quenneville could be looking at a fine from the league after he called out the officiating for not penalizing Torres.
“I had a hard time, I saw exactly what happened,” Chicago coach Joel Quenneville said. “It was right in front of me all four (officials) missed it.
“The refereeing tonight was a disgrace.”
Torres, who had run-ins with the Blackhawks previously while with Vancouver, wasn’t penalized. Last season, in Game 3 of the first-round series, Torres delivered a hard hit to Brent Seabrook.
“It’s tough. You saw the hit,” Chicago’s Patrick Kane said between periods. “I think it’ll be reviewed by the league. It’s just tough you don’t get a power play out of it. Hossa’s a big part of our team so someone’s going to have to step up and fill the void.”
Coyotes coach Dave Tippett tried to downplay the incident after the game.
“It looked to me like he was finishing his check but I haven’t looked at it in depth yet,” he said.
NHL players took to Twitter to share their thoughts on the latest controversial hit in these contentious playoffs.
“Just witnessed another suspension in the Chicago Phoenix series….!,” posted Dallas captain Brenden Morrow.
Toronto forward Tyler Bozak posted: “Really hope Hossa is okay. Hate seeing stuff like that!”
Player agent Allan Walsh added: “This has spiraled from out of control to total chaos. Do we really need a player to die on the ice for this insanity to stop?”
—With files from The Canadian Press.