Shortly after hearing about the four-game suspension for his blindside hit on Edmonton’s Jordan Eberle, Raffi Torres made a lame attempt to justify it by saying, “If I don’t make that hit, I will be out of a job.”
If that comment alone didn’t prove this guy just doesn’t get it, he certainly removed all doubt in Game 3 of the Vancouver Canucks’ first round series against the Chicago Blackhawks Sunday night. In his first game back after serving four games for his hit on Eberle, Torres took a blindside run at Blackhawks defenseman Brent Seabrook that was a textbook example of the kind of hit the NHL is trying to take out of the game.
So, what to do with Raffi Torres? Well, throwing the book at him seems like a pretty darn good idea at this point. The rest of the playoffs? Hear, hear.
There were those who argued after the first Torres suspension that he was treated too harshly, that as a first-time offender who made what some people still inconceivably believe to be a “hockey play,” four games was an excessive punishment. And it was a very stern one because the league essentially considers one playoff game to be the equivalent of two regular season games, so Torres received the equivalent of a six-game suspension for his hit on Eberle.
But if the league chooses to call Torres on the carpet again, and it seems almost certain it will, he will now be treated as a repeat offender. So it has the justification to come down as hard as it wants on him. After all, the hit on Eberle didn’t happen 12 months ago, it happened 12 days ago. This corner doesn’t normally buy the notion that players have lost respect for one another, but there is little doubt even if Torres has respect for his opponents, he certainly doesn’t have any for the NHL’s rules or its system of discipline.
If Torres is coming off a suspension and doesn’t have the presence of mind to restrain himself when he sees Seabrook in that vulnerable position, he’s either too stupid or too reckless to enjoy the privilege of playing the game for a good long time. I suspect it’s the latter, but if the NHL wants to send a message to players that they have to be responsible for their actions, this would be the perfect opportunity.
After the game, we had no real information on whether or not Seabrook went to the notorious quiet room after the hit from Torres and there seemed to be nothing but confusion surrounding the NHL’s concussion protocol as it applied to that situation. But there was absolutely no confusion over the Torres hit. It was a classic head shot to an unsuspecting opponent in a vulnerable position who had no opportunity to defend himself.
(And please, let’s dispense with the debate about Seabrook needing to “keep his head up.” He didn’t even have the puck and was looking down to try and find it. That is the epitome of being in a vulnerable position.)
So because Torres was an epic fail at heeding the message the first time around, the league must clobber him over the head with Rule 48 this time. Taking away his opportunity to play for the rest of this year’s playoffs would be an excellent place to start.