The Raffi Torres Hit

A Statement from GM Doug Wilson Regarding the Raffi Torres Suspension

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.

It’s rare for me to disagree with Doug Wilson on hockey issues, but on this hit, I am.

I’ve watched various angles of the hit multiple times. I see a different hit than Wilson does. What I see is Torres gliding in for a hit and making shoulder to head contact with Stoll. Wilson is correct that Torres didn’t leave his feet or elevate in the hit, which is why Torres isn’t suspended for a dozen games. But it’s clear from a couple of angles that Torres was watching Stoll as he skated in, had the time and ability to shift the hit away from his head, and didn’t. To blame Stoll for putting his head in the way of that hit is a GM defending his player, and more power to Wilson for doing so. 

But it’s wrong. Shanahan’s right. My prediction on twitter a couple of days ago was three games off — one for the hit and two for the reputation. The way the sharks are playing I may well be right. there’s been some kerfluffle over “the rest of the series”, but I think that makes sense in this context, in that it keeps Torres away from the Kings (and vice versa), but it also doesn’t over-punish Torres. I do NOT think the suspension should have a term that might leak into next season, for instance, and this one doesn’t. 

I can see the logic of the league not wanting Torres to come back for a game-deciding game 6 or game 7, for instance. Just imagine the potential mayhem. This pushes any rematch out to next season where tempers will have had time to cool off a bit. 

I understand why Wilson is upset; the Sharks need Torres in the lineup. but I think Shanahan got this one right. The team knew what torres’ suspension history and reputation were before bringing him onto the team. Torres has done a good job of reforming his game away from the kind of suspendable play he’s known for — but he could have turned this into a good clean body check, and he chose not to. And so now he sits.

And yes, that really hurts the Sharks chances of making this a long series. But the thing is, he should have considered that before going for a head shot. And didn’t. Because Torres knows what “repeat offender status” means better than almost anyone in the league right now. 

In other news, after the hearing, the NHL suspended Bryan Marchment for two games, just in case.