Raffi Torres shows no remorse after vicious hit on Marian Hossa
BY ADAM L. JAHNS firstname.lastname@example.org April 18, 2012 9:56PM
CORRECTS HOSSA FROM SLOVAKIA, NOT RUSSIA - Chicago Blackhawks' Marian Hossa (81) of Slovakia, falls down after hit from Phoenix Coyotes' Raffi Torres (37) during the first period of Game 3 of an NHL hockey Stanley Cup first-round playoff series in Chicago, Tuesday, April 17, 2012. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)
Updated: May 21, 2012 8:47AM
Raffi Torres’ infamous hit list is a long one.
Blackhawks star Marian Hossa is only the latest name, joining teammate Brent Seabrook, Jordan Eberle, Nate Prosser, Milan Michalek, Andrew Ference, Sean Couturier and Jan Hejda.
Look them up on YouTube. None of them is pretty. They all were victims of the NHL’s one true headhunter.
Torres has been suspended and fined, but he continues to hit guys directly in the head. It’s his history that distinguishes his situation from that of Hawks rookie Andrew Shaw, who was suspended for three games for a collision with goalie Mike Smith that didn’t cause an injury.
Of course, the Coyotes staunchly will defend one of their own, but Torres has bounced from team to team for a reason. He has become Public Enemy No. 1 not only to Hawks fans with Game 4 coming up Thursday at the United Center, but to many who cover the league and, more important, to those who play in it as head hits and violent acts have overshadowed much of the standout play this postseason.
It’s even tough to contend that any action this postseason — even Shea Weber’s head slam of Henrik Zetterberg — emboldened Torres because that always has been his style.
“You knew it was coming,” forward Patrick Sharp said. “You try to warn your linemates and be aware when [Torres is] on the ice. He’s got a history of targeting guys’ heads and questionable hits. It makes it that much more frustrating to see it happen, but we’ve got to rally behind [Hossa] and move on.”
Torres has been suspended indefinitely pending an in-person disciplinary hearing at the league’s New York offices Friday. It was scheduled for Wednesday, but it was delayed so all parties involved could attend.
Hossa, as expected, won’t play in Game 4. But his teammates communicated with him after he was carried out on a stretcher, hospitalized and released Tuesday night.
“We had a pretty good laugh [Tuesday] night, [Hossa] and our trainer Jeff Thomas, so it’s good to know he’s in good spirits,” Sharp said.
“He’s texting all the boys back, so he’s pretty busy with his phone now,” center Jonathan Toews said.
“We just know that all the important things turned out OK,” veteran Jamal Mayers said.
The Hawks said it was difficult not to respond with brute force against Torres, especially considering he wasn’t penalized and remained in the game. Brandon Bollig went after him, but Torres refused to fight, which resulted in the rookie enforcer getting a minor penalty for roughing and a 10-minute misconduct after wrestling him to the ice.
The best revenge, they say, is winning, of course. Last year, the Hawks were able to win three games in a row against the Canucks in the first round after Torres knocked out Seabrook behind the Hawks’ net.
“Our team needs to harness our emotion and channel it in the right way,” Sharp said.
There have been stories of change in the NHL, of violent, suspension-prone players transforming into physical but less dirty ones who contribute with skill. Matt Cooke of the Penguins is a great example, Mayers said.
“Give him credit; he changed his game,” Mayers said.
Cooke is proof that supplemental disciplinary action can effectively change behavior, but Torres comes off as remorseless, the Hawks say.
Believe it or not, Torres had 20- and 27-goal seasons with the Oilers. He also was having a solid, productive series for the Coyotes before leaping off the ice and hitting Hossa in the head with his left shoulder.
Torres called his hit on Hossa “a hockey play.”
“It’s obviously the way he thinks,” Toews said. “It was the same thing when he was with Vancouver last year. He probably thought that was a hockey play, too.
“There is no remorse at all, I don’t think, with a guy like that when you pretty much take him out and have a guy carried off on a stretcher, and he probably doesn’t feel bad about it at all. That’s not hockey to me.”