Dare ye anger the Hockey Gods, Raffi Torres?
The stout Phoenix Coyotes winger has once again propelled himself into the spotlight by propelling himself into an unsuspecting opponent. And while his team may end up winning its series against the Chicago Blackhawks, Torres has undoubtedly made the road to glory much more difficult for the Desert Dogs.
In his wanton destruction of Hawks star Marian Hossa, Torres left his feet and only did so several strides after Hossa had dished off the puck. This is not cool.
Torres claims he was making a “hockey play,” but how many neutral fans would characterize it as such? Late and leaping does not a hockey play make. And this is where the Hockey Gods come in. Like Todd Bertuzzi, who has been marked for failure since his attack on Steve Moore, Torres is tempting fate with each code-breaking violation.
Even if you do not believe in hockey hexes or sports karma, it’s pretty obvious Torres has now awoken the Blackhawks, who are by no means finished in a series that only stands at 2-1 Phoenix right now. For the most obvious example, we can simply look to Torres himself last season.
As a member of the Vancouver Canucks, Torres plowed into Brent Seabrook’s head during Game 3 of the opening round against Chicago. The Canucks would hold a 3-0 lead coming out of that game, but nearly everything went Chicago’s way after that. Dave Bolland returned to the lineup and racked up six points in four games while getting back to the business of terrorizing the Sedins and the Hawks forced the Presidents’ Trophy winners into Game 7 overtime.
True, a bad break for defenseman Chris Campoli led to a Vancouver victory, but the Canucks would not win the cherished Stanley Cup.
One of the reasons? A momentum-shifting hit thrown by blueliner Aaron Rome in the final, which knocked Nathan Horton out of the lineup with a concussion and woke up his Boston Bruins teammates. The impact occurred five minutes into a scoreless Game 3. Boston would score eight goals in the remaining 55 and lose just one more game in the series en route to the Cup.
Now, the Bruins were far from saints themselves in the series, but that Horton hit was a rallying point. The closest comparable happened at the beginning of Game 6 when Mason Raymond was crunched awkwardly by Johnny Boychuk, but the Canucks didn’t have time to process the injustice before the B’s were on top of them.
So in a karmic way, we are left with Torres’ team escaping fate in Chicago, only to be blown out to sea at the last second before glory by the Hockey Gods.
The Blackhawks still maintain the core that won them the Cup in 2010. Hossa might even be fine for Game 4, even though he was taken off on a stretcher and sent to the hospital as a precaution. How long will Torres be suspended for the infraction? This year there’s no point even guessing, but what you are left with at the least is a Blackhawks team with something to avenge and the talent to do it (and in a more visceral sense, a good young fighter in Brandon Bollig who could do a lot worse to Torres than he had the chance to after the Hossa hit).
The Coyotes have wandered the desert for a long time – and Torres may have inadvertently extended that post-season futility with his affront to the Gods.
Ryan Kennedy, the co-author of Young Guns II, is THN’s associate senior writer and a regular contributor to THN.com. His column appears Wednesdays and The Hot List appears Tuesdays. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/THNRyanKennedy.