Raffi Torres to Appeal 25-Game Suspension

Raffi Torres of the Phoenix Coyotes plans to appeal the 25-game suspension he received for his April 17 hit on the Chicago BlackhawksMarian Hossa.

The National Hockey League Players’ Association has filed the appeal on Torres’ behalf. Commissioner Gary Bettman, not disciplinarian Brendan Shanahan, will hear the appeal at a time to be determined.

Bettman has three options here–an in-person hearing, a phone hearing or none. Basically, he has the discretion to decide whether or not to even hear the appeal at all. No matter what, though, he has to issue a written ruling.

Last month, Shanahan delivered the suspension based on three factors:

  • a late hit
  • launching off the feet
  • targeting Hossa’s head

While the Coyotes are still in the playoff hunt, the length of Torres’ suspension, if upheld, means he will not see game action until the 2012-13 season.

CBC’s Elliotte Friedman explains that players aren’t too pleased with having to appeal to Bettman. Look for that process to potentially be changed in the next Collective Bargaining Agreement. For example, the addition of an independent body charged with discipline, instead of the insider system that exists now, could be something they suggest.

Torres is building his case around the wording of the current CBA, which calls for discipline to be enforced consistently. The question he’s raising is whether or not his suspension was consistent with others. He could have a case attempting to expose the holes in NHL discipline, which have been written about in many forms by many people.

There is no precedent in the Shanahan era for a player appealing his disciplinary ruling, so the Torres case will be an interesting one to watch as it unfolds.

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