And The Beats Go On in the NHL

With apologies to Sonny and Cher:

The beats go on, the beats go on –¬†Checks keep pounding hits to the brain…

Raffi Torres Suspended 25 Games for hit on Marian Hossa

Raffi Torres: 5 time! 5 time! 5 time! 5 time! 5 time repeat offender!

Brendan Shanahan and the NHL Player Safety Department made a statement by suspending Raffi Torres for the remainder of this year’s playoffs, and probably well into the 2012-2013 regular season. I do not have a problem with the length of this suspension. My issue is with the consistency of the suspensions as a whole. The Torres hit on Hossa was dangerous, but according to Justyna Gluch (@MidwayJustyna from Midway Madness), it was a borderline hockey play – maybe a fraction of a second too late, and if Torres had not leaped into Hossa, the hit would have a little more legal. I’d like to add and underline the word “reckless“. Torres is a 5 time repeat offender with respect to the NHL and supplementary discipline, and all of his hits have the same careless, reckless nature. They’re all at high speed, and all direct shots to the head, with the elbow or shoulder.

There’s no need for that type of play. It’s clear Torres didn’t see the pre-season video from the NHL Player Safety Department, or maybe his copy was switched with Don Cherry’s Rock ’em Sock ’em Hockey. Either way, if Torres wants to stay in the NHL, he needs to re-tool his game, much like Matt Cooke did this season with the Penguins.

Very little consistency from NHL Player Safety department

Torres was handed a 25-game suspension, yet Shea Weber’s WWE turnbuckle smash of Henrik Zetterberg’s head got him a $2500 fine. Other star players received fines or 1-game suspensions that did not hurt their team. Perhaps it’s just anecdotal evidence that I’m looking at, but it does seem that “star players” in the NHL are not served the same rulebook as “role players”.

No respect among NHL players

Respecting the opposition doesn’t mean you have to invite them to the team-only Super Mario Kart tournament, or to the pregame soccer warm-up. Respect to me is some basic human decency, within the framework of a game of hockey. Bodychecks are legal hits, meant to dislodge a player from the puck. A legal check doesn’t have to be thrown at 50 M.P.H. with the intent to hit the player into next week.

This has been happening for a long time. Scott Stevens made a career out of hard hits, half of which would be borderline hockey plays, and likely reviewed for suspension. There is a long list of players that have ended their careers early because of hits to the head. Hockey fans have to wonder how hockey history would be different if players like Keith Primeau, Eric Lindros, Paul Kariya and Marc Savard had played full and healthy careers. Sidney Crosby may yet be added to that list.

Is there anything wrong with letting up a bit? Hits at 30 M.P.H. along the ice are still just as devastating. How about a quick “Heads Up”, or God forbid letting your skills do the talking?

Players expect too much of the league, and should expect more of themselves

How many times have you watched player interviews after a game with a questionable hit? Coaches and players are guilty of trying to “let the league deal with it”. The players go out and play their game, hit their hits, and then take whatever happens with respect to discipline. Am I the only one who believes the players should just know better?



Be social and share!
Tweet about this on Twitter3Share on Facebook5Google+0share on TumblrShare on LinkedIn0Share on StumbleUpon0Share on Reddit0Email to someonePrint this page


  1. peanutflower says

    First, get rid of the body armour or change it so the hitter feels it just as much as the hittee. Unfortunately I have to agree with Don Cherry on this. Second, base punishment on injury to the hittee. If the hittee doesn’t come back for a month neither does the hitter. Third, get the NHLPA to stop this ridiculous notion of a $2,500 max fine for players who make an average of a million and a half a year or more. Fourth, if a player can’t see in digital frames per second and a ref can’t see in digital frames per second this should not be the deciding factor in whether a hit is bad or simply a “hockey play” Remove technology from the equation. It has to be visible and judgeable by the naked eye. If it looks like a duck it probably is a duck. Lastly, have player suspension and safety or whatever the hell Shanahan’s office is misnomered this year and have it run by a private nonpartisan third party whose concern REALLY is player safety and not pleasing the old boy network. There is obviously more at play here than player safety, one assumes, judging from the horrible inconsistency with Shanahan’s suspensions.

    • says

      very interesting look on this topic – thanks for reading!

      perhaps one of the only things i can agree with Don Cherry on – removing some of the armor, or changing it.

      and the digital frames piece also rings true with me. part of why Torres’ hits were so brutal is because they’re at high speed. unless he has Superman-like reaction times, he doesn’t know what he’s doing out there with respect to reacting to a play in front of him. if someone changes direction in front of him at the last moment, Torres won’t be able to appreciably change his course of action (other than to stick an elbow out).

      i might take the 3rd party thing to another level and have the Appeals part of it also 3rd party. Shanahan has probably done the best he can with what he has been given. it is better than Colin Campbell’s “system” in that video breakdown and explanation is provided, which is good. i think Shanny got off to a good start, but somehow it got off the rails when stars began committing suspendable fouls.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *