With Matt Cooke coming out of his long suspension from the 2010-2011 season as a reformed individual, finishing with his lowest amount of penalty minutes since he came onto the league, Raffi Torres took over as resident top goon around the NHL.
Torres had a history of playing over the edge, even before last season. But his style of play exploded last year, with two suspensions during the regular season and one of the longest in NHL history during the postseason.
In the first round of the playoffs for the Phoenix Coyotes, Raffi Torres threw his shoulder into the head of Chicago Blackhawks forward Marian Hossa. Hossa never saw him, Torres left his feet, and Hossa had to be taken off of the ice on a stretcher. Torres was hit with a 25-game suspension, which was later reduced to 21.
He will now miss the first eight games of the regular season, with his suspension being shortened for this season thanks to the deep run by the Coyotes. Initially in denial about the hit, as were many of his coaches and teammates, Torres now says that a change in his game is necessary.
From The Arizona Republic:
“I’ve gone back and watched a lot of video of the way I need to play,” Torres said. “At the end of the day, the hit was a little late and it was a little high. Ultimately, I’ll have to deal with the consequences, and if it’s eight games, it’s eight games.”
We heard similar words from Matt Cooke last summer, and he followed them up. But similar to Cooke, there’s absolutely no reason to believe the words coming out of the mouth of Raffi Torres until he proves it on the ice.
The style of play of Torres could be an asset to the Coyotes, as his absence was likely a contributing factor in their elimination during the postseason. He’s a gritty, physical guy who is capable of contributing some in the offensive end. If he brings his play back behind the edge, rather than over it, he could be a very difficult player to play against.
Now he just needs to prove he’s serious about adjusting his style.