Who, me? Raffi Torres says he didn’t know about Blackhawks fans’ hate
BY BEN MEYER-ABBOTT firstname.lastname@example.org April 15, 2012 9:18PM
Updated: May 17, 2012 8:11AM
That Blackhawks fans don’t care for Raffi Torres isn’t news to anyone, except maybe the hard-nosed forward himself.
Torres leapfrogged the Vancouver Canucks’ Henrik and Daniel Sedin to become Public Enemy No. 1 last year with his hit on Brent Seabrook in Game 3 of the Hawks’ first-round playoff series with the Canucks.
But when asked if he was aware of just how much animosity awaits him when he returns to the United Center on Tuesday for Game 3 of the Hawks’ series with the Phoenix Coyotes, Torres said he wasn’t.
‘‘I stopped worrying about that stuff when I was in high school,’’ Torres said. ‘‘You can’t really worry what people say about you. You just got to go out there, have some fun and play hockey.’’
It’s hard to believe Torres really is oblivious to his reputation in Chicago. But his intense but controlled play thus far in the series helps him back up his talk about confining his impact to the score sheet and not the penalty box.
‘‘I’m not trying to hurt anybody out there,’’ he said. ‘‘I’m not trying to get under their skin. I just want to go out and play hard.’’
Which he does. Torres has been one of the best players for either team through the first two games, assisting on Antoine Vermette’s goal in Game 1 before scoring a goal of his own in Game 2.
‘‘He’s been unbelievable. He’s been one of our most effective [players],’’ Coyotes captain Shane Doan said. ‘‘You see he takes his game to the next level in emotion and intensity.’’
Case in point: Shortly after scoring in Game 2, Torres barreled into a battle along the boards in the neutral zone, dispossessed two Hawks players, lost his helmet and set up a scoring chance for a teammate before crashing hard to the net looking for a rebound.
‘‘One thing about Torres is he’s a hard player — he likes playing the game hard,’’ Coyotes coach Dave Tippett said. ‘‘He brings that mind-set to the playoff games.’’
And this year, with the complaints about a head shot surrounding Hawks rookie Andrew Shaw and not himself, Torres said his mind-set is on staying disciplined and not retaliating.
‘‘You get them where it hurts,’’ Torres said after the Hawks won Game 2, ‘‘on the scoreboard.’’