Yesterday the NHL announced that Raffi Torres would be suspended four games (two in the regular season and two in the playoffs) for this hit on Edmonton Oilers forward Jordan Eberle:
Mike Gillis is pissed about this and I am too. The reason? This is setting a whole new precedent, not at the beginning of the year, but at the end of the year. Where is the fairness in that? Before showing some comparable suspensions, I’d like to first defend the hit:
Members of the media have inaccurately called this hit a ‘blind side’ hit. It wasn’t to the blind side. Eberle is looking right at him. The media has also called this an elbow. If you breakdown the hit frame-by-frame, you will see that Torres tucks his elbow into his own body. He does not extend it out at the point of contact. His arm swings out after the hit, like what happens all the time with body checks. Here’s an example (notice how Bieksa’s arms/elbows follow through on the hit):
Was it a head shot? Yes. Though it would hard not to hit Eberle’s head when he’s leaning down and has his head just above Torres’ waist. The problem with suspending Torres for a head shot is that head shots are legal in the NHL! In order for this to be a penalty it would have to be from the blind side or have to be an elbow. It’s definitely not from the blind side and I don’t think you can call it an elbow either. Want to see an elbow? THIS is an elbow:
That hit from earlier this year only got a two game suspension for Dany Heatley.
You want to see a blind side hit? THIS is a blind side hit:
That happened earlier this season on November 4th. That’s a clear blind side hit and also a head shot. That got two games. David Perron suffered a concussion and hasn’t returned this season.
That brings me to another problem I have with the Torres suspension. There wasn’t an injury on the play! Unlike this elbow from Pavel Kubina on Dave Bolland, which gave Bolland a concussion that has kept him out a month and counting:
Kubina got three games for that.
And finally, my problem with this suspension is that it seems to count playoff games the same as regular season games! The NHL has a long tradition of one playoff game as a more serious suspension than one regular season game. How else can you explain Marian Hossa getting zero games for this hit on Dan Hamhuis from last year’s playoffs:
That would have been at least a one game suspension if it happened during the regular season. True, Matt Cooke got suspended for a whole round of the playoffs this year, but he is a repeat offender (something that the NHL takes into account) and his hit was more egregious. This is Torres’ first suspension and it is completely out of whack with everything the NHL has done this year. I think it’s arguable that it should be any suspension at all. Never mind four games. Never mind including playoff games. Never mind consistency.