Torres public enemy No. 1
By ben meyer-abbott firstname.lastname@example.org April 17, 2011 11:25PM
Updated: September 24, 2012 6:25AM
The first-round playoff series between the Vancouver Canucks and the Blackhawks already was physical. Canucks agitator Raffi Torres made it dirty.
Fresh off serving a four-game suspension for elbowing the Edmonton Oilers’ Jordan Eberle in the head, Torres delivered a hit to the head of defenseman Brian Campbell on his third shift of the postseason.
That might have been the least questionable of his hits.
Torres followed up his check on Campbell with two crushing blows on defenseman Brent Seabrook in the second period. On the first, he lit up an unsuspecting — and puckless — Seabrook with a shoulder to the head behind the Hawks’ goal. The second caused Seabrook to miss the final four minutes of the period.
‘‘Brutal,’’ Hawks coach Joel Quenneville said. ‘‘Major [penalty], absolutely. They missed it. Is it a suspension? I don’t have to worry about that; it’s not my call. The guy didn’t even get through his first game back off [a suspension].
‘‘[Seabrook is] a big western Canadian kid. Somebody else might have been on a stretcher.’’
Torres, who had no comment after the game, was assessed minor penalties for his hit on Campbell and for his first hit on Seabrook.
Quenneville didn’t get an explanation from the officials about Torres’ first hit on Seabrook, but he said he saw the play live and on replay and thought it certainly warranted a major penalty.
Canucks coach Alain Vigneault disagreed.
‘‘I didn’t think it was a penalty, but . . . that’s me,’’ Vigneault said. ‘‘Hockey is a collision sport; there’s a lot of intensity. You’re always walking that fine line. I compare those two hits [on Seabrook] to where [the Anaheim Ducks’ Ryan] Getzlaf didn’t even get a two-minute minor [for a hit during the regular season]. Both looked like pretty much the same hit.’’
The Hawks weren’t buying it, though.
‘‘His reputation speaks for itself,’’ captain Jonathan Toews said. ‘‘He’s not just going in there to make a play; he’s trying to hurt one of our players. To us, that’s pretty obvious.’’
Seabrook told reporters he underwent some concussion tests, per league policy, after leaving the bench in the second period.
‘‘Honestly, guys, I don’t know if I really felt it anywhere, but I felt it on my cheek and my ear,’’ Seabrook said. ‘‘I haven’t seen the hit, so I can’t comment on it.’’
Seabrook was sure of one thing, though.
‘‘I didn’t have control of the puck,’’ he said. ‘‘I honestly thought [Torres] was on my back.’’
Even with 6-8 John Scott in the lineup, the Hawks didn’t go after Torres during the game as they unsuccessfully fought to avoid going into a 3-0 hole in the series.
Toews said Sunday wasn’t the time to exact retribution. But he did say there would come a time for it.
‘‘We said in the locker room there’s a time for everything,’’ he said. ‘‘We’ll deal with that accordingly.’’