Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Raffi Torres: Professional Doucherocket

Raffi Torres' hit on Marian Hossa last night was simply unacceptable, and no words I could write here will fully convey the extent to which that is the case. It was a horrific hit, and it should trip all of Brenden Shanahan's wires- injury, leaving the feet, targeting the head, repeat offender. Topping all of that, Torres was not disciplined on the ice (indeed, the next penalty was ON the Blackhawks because they responded in kind) and all four officials claim they didn't see the hit (which, I have no reason to think they'd lie, but I was watching the game from a tradmill at my gym, and I saw the hit, even as the camera followed the puck. So maybe these four officials need new jobs).

Torres has been suspended indefinitely pending a hearing on Friday, and all of the chatter in the NHL culture is how many games he'll be suspended. The least ambitious pundits say 5; the most ambitious say he should be out for the rest of the playoffs. After the Weber, Carkner, and Shaw decisions, there's a palpable lack of confidence in Shanahan to make the right decision.

And I would argue that Shanahan's already made the wrong one.

Yesterday's suspension of Andrew Shaw was sold, at least in part, as "sending a message", about doing something that gets everyone's attention and makes them all understand in no uncertain terms that even questionable conduct will not be tolerated. Indeed, Shanahan has said before that his job is to mold behavior going forward, and if his office is about player safety, he's absolutely right. Now, we talked yesterday about how he's muddling his own message, but at pretty much the first opportunity after Shaw's suspension, Torres pulled this shit. The message has not been received. 

I understand the idea that Torres is an imperfect example; he's got no history as a hockey player, it's all just as a shitheel. Maybe he's unreachable, and the Shaw suspension was really supposed to tell rookies what was expected of them. But I'd argue that you can tell the Ryan Nugent-Hopkinses of the league to play the right well all you want; if the Torreses of the league are giving them concussions, you're still not cleaning up the game. In other words, any "message"- hell, any disciplinary system- that doesn't get through to guys Torres' is just not going to get the job done. And clearly, right now, no one's gotten through to them.

1 comment:

  1. My only disagreement is that the Hawks didn't actually respond in kind. Bollig started a fight, he didn't go head hunting. For better or worse, fights are "allowed". Yeah, you can get a penalty for fighting or instigating, but if both parties drop gloves and a concussion results, the league isn't going to hand down suspensions they way they should for a hit like Torres' (or Weber's).