Originally posted on Fox Sports Arizona  |  Last updated 4/21/12
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- A three-day delay didnt help Raffi Torres cause. In a move that some would say was long overdue, the NHL came down hard on the Coyotes forward Saturday, suspending him 25 games for an open-ice hit on Chicagos Marian Hossa at 11:42 of the first period in Game 3 of their Western Conference quarterfinals series Tuesday at the United Center. It is the third-longest suspension in league history as far as games lost. In its ruling, the league determined that Torres violated three league rules -- interference, charging and an illegal check to head -- despite the fact that no penalty was called on the play. NHL senior vice president of player safety and hockey operations Brendan Shanahan said two other factors also played a role in the suspension. First, this violent and dangerous hit caused a severe injury. Second, not only is Torres a repeat offender as defined by the CBA, his extensive supplemental discipline history consists mainly of acts very similar to this one including two this season. Despite knowing that Hossa no longer has the puck, Torres decides to finish his check past the amount of time when Hossa is eligible to be body-checked. That is a violation of the interference rule. While we acknowledge the circumstances of certain hits may cause a players skates to come off the ice, on this hit, Torres launches himself into the air before making contact. This is a violation of the charging rule. The position of Hossas head does not change just prior to or simultaneous with this hit. The onus, therefore, is on Torres not to make it the principal point of contact. Torres makes Hossas head the principal point of contact. This is a violation of the illegal check rule. The Coyotes toed the company line when asked for reactions to the suspension at Saturdays morning skate. Were not going to say anything about it, captain Shane Doan said. The league has made its decision, and theres nothing we can do about it now, coach Dave Tippett added. Well deal with it as a club, and Raffi has to deal with it, but our focus is solely on what we have to do tonight as a club. So what to make of this ruling? First, for anyone thinking or hoping this suspension would serve as a benchmark or a flashpoint for a much harder line stance on head shots, Shanahans statement made it clear this was not as much about that as it was about punishing Torres. In that light, its also difficult to paint Torres suspension within the context of this postseason. There have been multiple cries about the leagues inconsistency with lengths of suspensions -- or the lack thereof in the case of Shea Weber. Those still stand, as does the NHLs maddening inability to evaluate intent when rendering these judgments. But Torres has been warned repeatedly to stop this very type of hit. He had been suspended or fined five previous times, including a two-game suspension earlier this season for a hit on Minnesotas Nate Prosser and a four-game suspension late last season for a hit on Edmontons Jordan Eberle. Yet Torres still didnt get the leagues message. On the play in question, Hossa lay on the ice for several minutes before being taken off on a stretcher and transported via ambulance to a nearby hospital for tests. He was released later that night. Shanahans comments made it clear Hossa is suffering a severe injury, likely a concussion. Its a shame the league doesnt take all head shots more seriously. Concussions are a very serious business. Its a violent game, and injuries are going to happen regardless of which rules are in place, but there is no place for head shots. The league should do everything in its power to protect players futures long after they have retired from the game of hockey. HANZAL, KORPIKOSKI SKATE Both forwards Martin Hanzal (lower body) and Lauri Korpikoski (upper body) skated Sunday at the Alltel Ice Den as the team prepared for Game 5 Saturday night at Jobing.com Arena. Coach Dave Tippett said Korpikoski would be a game-time decision, but he called Hanzal doubtful. Hanzal left the ice before regular practice began Saturday morning. Korpikoski remained for the full practice. HOSSA OUT Chicago coach Joel Quenneville officially ruled Hossa out of Game 5 on Friday. Hossa did not travel with the team to Phoenix, and his availability for the rest of the series is uncertain. Following Shanahans statement on the Torres hit, it is clear Hossa is suffering from a major injury. Its highly unlikely well see him again in this postseason unless the Hawks make a deep run. Rookie Brandon Saad replaced him in the lineup in Game 4 and could again in Game 5.
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