Saturday, April 21, 2012

Torres Gets 25 Games; What Do We Get?

After last Tuesday's flat out attack, Raffi Torres has been suspended 25 games by Brenden Shanahan. You should watch Shanahan's video; I think he makes the case, particularly in laying out Torres' prior headhunting this season. Indeed, I think it's clear that Torres just doesn't get it (and I'm not sure if 25 games off will change that).

So, Shanahan probably made the right call here. That, of course, doesn't mitigate all of the other missteps this post season. Nor does it mitigate the failure of the on-ice officials from Tuesday night's game. If anything, Shanahan's discipline and video makes it clear just how much the four officials fucked up.

Shanahan points out that Torres actually violated three different rules; apparently, all four officials missed all three of those violations. That boggles the mind; I saw Hossa get blown up, and I was watching from a treadmill at a gym, reliant on NBC's "follow the puck" camera work. I couldn't tell if there'd been a foul, but I wasn't on ice, and I'm not trained to spot those things. There's no excuse for the refs and linesmen.

One would think that those officials deserve some discipline, too. The NHL should make it clear that a failure to protect the players won't be tolerated from anyone. Indeed, I'd argue that it's more important for the refs, given their positions of authority and prestige in the NHL hierarchy.

This is the broader problem with Shanahan's "supplemental discipline" regime- it's taking responsibility and accountability away from the officials who are actually on the ice. Shanahan's videos are really all about defining which hits are acceptable and which aren't. That's actually great, but at some point, shouldn't that definition just be in the rule book? And shouldn't the on-ice officials be empowered to enforce those rules- or be held responsible if they don't?

Otherwise, I think you're creating some fucked up incentives for the players. If I'm some 4th line goon who only sees a few minutes of ice anyway, and my team has a decent PK, I might just take someone's head off in hopes of winning the game in front of me and getting lucky in front of the Shanhammer.

(Well, not ME, really, as I'm a pussy. But you know what I mean.)

That all being said, I am pleased with Torres' suspension, and I think it's important to say so. But I'm pretty sure my pleasure is cold comfort to Marian Hossa (And the if the 'Yotes are the ones dancing at the end of the night, for the Blackhawks, too). And I just can't get over the fact that it shouldn't have taken four days for Torres to see any discipline for an unquestionably dirty hit.

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