When one thinks of Raffi Torres, one tends to think of his reputation.
One thinks of the destruction he’s caused, whether it was with the Phoenix Coyotes or one of his previous clubs. The hit on Marian Hossa that left him to be carried off on a stretcher, or any number of other incidents he’s had that have drawn a punishment from the league. He’s a dirty player.
And the fact that everyone’s thoughts immediately turn to that type of image is Torres’ fault. Until he proves that he’s shaken that type of play, and he’s taken the recklessness and foolishness out of his game, people are going to continue to view him that way. As they should.
What is overlooked, though, as we wait for Torres to prove if he’s actually been rehabilitated in the long term, is the act that he’s actually a pretty solid player for the Coyotes. There is actually a bit of skill that Torres brings to the ice, that goes beyond his physical game.
The physical game Torres brings, whether it’s always legal or not, does change the game. It can be extremely useful. We’ve seen it be useful this season. He’s played somewhat physical, but has brought a strong forecheck that has made a difference for the Coyotes.
Torres is a useful guy for those types of things. He’s a guy you can put in the bottom six and he’ll be a menace on the forecheck and score some cheap goals down around the crease. He’s done those things for the Coyotes this season. And all while having just one penalty on the season, which was a fight in one of his first games since return, against Jamal Mayers. Nothing else, oddly enough.
Until he can do it for a longer stretch than a few weeks, no one is going to say that Torres is a changed man. People still don’t acknowledge that Matt Cooke has changed his game. But while we wait for him to prove that, the Coyotes love what he’s bringing to the ice on a nightly basis. And they’ll take it.