Originally posted on Fox Sports Arizona  |  Last updated 4/18/12
CHICAGO Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville didnt mince his words. "The refereeing tonight was a disgrace, he said following the Phoenix Coyotes 3-2 overtime win Tuesday at United Center. He intentionally cast a blanket over the entire performance, but his ire was sparked by one particular play. Midway through the first period, Coyotes forward Raffi Torres lined up Chicago star winger Marian Hossa with an open-ice hit on which Torres clearly left his feet, catching Hossa in the head with his shoulder and knocking him violently to the ice after the puck had cleared the area. No penalty was called on the play a point of hot contention with Quenneville who couldnt believe all four officials missed it. Hossa lay on the ice for a lengthy period of time before he was carried off on a stretcher with his neck in a brace. He was taken via ambulance to a nearby hospital. It was a brutal hit, Quenneville said. You could have a multiple-choice question, and its all of the above. The Blackhawks released a statement after the game saying an evaluation at Northwestern Memorial hospital yielded encouraging results on Hossa. He has been released from the hospital, and we are monitoring him closely at home, the release read. We anticipate a full recovery in a timetable yet to be determined. It was no surprise that the Coyotes circled the wagons to protect their player after the game. Thats what the word team is about. Coach Dave Tippett said he hadnt seen the hit on video yet, and he wouldnt worry about losing Torres to a suspension until he had to. Captain Shane Doan said he was told the hit wasnt that big of a deal. But Tippett uttered the very words that will likely doom Torres mere hours earlier when he addressed Chicago forward Andrew Shaws hit on goalie Mike Smith behind the net in Game 2. Its the exact hit theyre trying to take out of the game, Tippett said. So was Torres hit. He may have intended it as a hockey play, as he said. He may have felt genuine remorse when he said: I hope hes all right. But leaving your feet is a big no-no in the NHL. So is a shot to the head. This is how concussions occur, and concussions, as we are becoming increasingly aware, are a very big deal. When pondering what league disciplinarian Brendan Shanahan will do, put aside his inconsistencies thus far in the postseason and focus on this: Torres has an unsavory history that will work overtime against him. There are also those two very visible infractions leaving his feet and striking Hossas head which represent the highest level of disrespect for fellow players and the game in the eyes of the league. Torres is a repeat offender. He was suspended two games earlier this season for a hit on Minnesotas Nate Prosser, and he got four games late last season for a hit on Edmontons Jordan Eberle. Hes a guy with a reputation for playing on the edge and, at times, crossing the line. The NHL is likely going to come down hard on him. We do not presume to know the mind of Shanahan or commissioner Gary Bettman, who was in attendance on Tuesday, but the guess here is that if the Coyotes do not advance to the second round of the playoffs, we have seen the last of Torres this season.
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