San Jose Sharks forward Raffi Torres cleaned up his game a bit this year, but he is back to square one and smack dab in the middle of the same controversial situation as he was this time last year. You could probably apply the statement once an offender, always an offender as this is the fourth suspension Torres has received for illegal hits.
Torres was recently suspended for an illegal hit to the head of Los Angeles Kings forward Jarret Stoll in Game 1 between the two clubs this past Thursday. Torres will be out for the remainder of this second round series against the Kings.
This time, however, not only did Torres receive a suspension for his hit, the Sharks general manager, Doug Wilson, was fined for comments he made regarding the suspension. Wilson received a $100,000 fine for violating the rule prohibiting formal team statements released to the media within 48 hours of the disciplinary decision. The fine is made up of a $25,000 automatic fine and an additional $75,000 for the ‘‘inappropriate nature of the comments.’’
In his statement posted on San Jose’s official webpage, Wilson makes it cleat that he disagrees with the suspension and defends Torres for the simple fact that he believes that the NHL did not apply Rule 48.1 properly as he did not target Stoll’s head:
Upon review of the incident, it is abundantly clear that this was a clean hockey hit. As noted by the NHL, Raffi’s initial point of contact was a shoulder-to-shoulder hit on an opponent who was playing the puck. He did not leave his feet or elevate, he kept his shoulder tucked and elbow down at his side, and he was gliding – not skating or charging.
As stated in the NHL’s Player Safety video, Rule 48.1 says, “A hit resulting in contact with an opponent’s head where the head is targeted and the principal point of contact is not permitted.” Thus, with the use of the word “and”, this rule clearly states that two elements must occur in order to violate the rule. Raffi absolutely did not target his opponent’s head on the play. The call on the ice specifically acknowledged that the head was not targeted and nowhere in the NHL’s ruling does it insinuate or suggest that the opponent’s head was targeted.
You have to wonder, regardless of the Sharks organization defending Torres, whether he will be taboo and will not remain a free agent once his contract comes due as he could now be viewed as a risk to any team that’s not worth the trouble.