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Hawks hope 25-game suspension on Torres sends message

Chicago Blackhawks' Marian Hoss(81) Russifalls down after  taking hit from Phoenix Coyotes' Raffi Torres (37) during first period Game

Chicago Blackhawks' Marian Hossa (81) of Russia, falls down after taking a 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)

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Updated: May 24, 2012 8:22AM

To Blackhawks forward Brendan Morrison, a suspension such as the 25-game ban the Phoenix Coyotes’ Raffi Torres received
Saturday was a long time coming.

How else are you going to get the message across to players that it isn’t acceptable to go after another player’s head and livelihood?

‘‘It’s a precedent,’’ Morrison said of Torres’ suspension, the longest playoff ban in NHL history. ‘‘We’ve been talking about it so long — over the course of the past couple of years, there have been more suspensions — but the message isn’t getting through to guys. I don’t know how it can’t get through after this.’’

The playoffs are over for Torres. And however many games from the ban for his vicious head shot on Hawks forward Marian Hossa in Game 3 that aren’t applied to this postseason will carry over to next season. Torres also will be prohibited from taking part in the preseason.

The 25-game ban is tied for the second-longest suspension in NHL history (behind Chris Simon’s 30-gamer for stomping on Pittsburgh Penguins forward Jarkko Ruutu’s leg in 2007) and will cost Torres $21,341 per regular-season game lost.

‘‘It’s a severe suspension,’’ Morrison said. ‘‘I don’t know why it’s taken this long to send a message.’’

After Game 3, Torres called the hit on Hossa ‘‘just a hockey play’’ before storming off after just three questions from reporters. Hawks captain Jonathan Toews wondered Saturday if the punishment handed down by NHL disciplinarian Brendan Shanahan might make Torres reconsider his interpretation.

‘‘I’m sure the length of a suspension like that would make any player rethink their reaction,’’ Toews said. ‘‘Maybe he doesn’t think it’s such a normal hockey play anymore.’’

Torres declined to speak with the media Saturday, opting to issue a statement instead.

‘‘My main concern is for the healthy recovery of Marian Hossa,
and I hope that he will be able to get back on the ice to compete again soon,’’ Torres said. ‘‘I sincerely regret injuring Marian. Regarding the severity of the suspension issued, I will take the next few days to decide whether or not to appeal the decision.’’

Shanahan said that in addition to Torres violating three NHL rules on the ‘‘violent and dangerous hit,’’ his history as a repeat offender — including a rap sheet that features many hits similar to the one on Hossa — played a role in determining the length of the suspension.

‘‘What Raffi needs to realize is even when he hits clean, he still hits hard,’’ Hawks defenseman Sean O’Donnell said. ‘‘You can still be an effective player. You can still be a physical player. You’ve just got to have a little more respect for the other guys.’’

Said Morrison: ‘‘At the end of the day, the onus is on the players to have respect for each other.
The respect [factor] in the league has diminished in the past few seasons. Maybe the only way to put an end to it is to get after guys like this.’’

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