April 21 2012 10:14AM
The NHL has suspended Raffi Torres for 25 games as a result of his hit on Marian Hossa.
Ryan Batty, a writer for Copper & Blue, tweeted the following comment, which neatly encapsulated my own initial reaction:
25 games for Torres. Wow. If this is the NHL taking discipline serious great, if this is the NHL using him as a scapegoat not so great.
That’s the thing. I have no objection to a 25-game suspension for the type of hit that Torres threw, given the player’s track record and the injury sustained - if that’s the standard for players across the league. If Brendan Shanahan has decided that strict enforcement of this sort of hit is the way to go, I think that’s an entirely defensible position and one that will help reduce concussions around the league.
If, however, this is simply a one-time suspension to throw a bone to people concerned about concussions, it’s more difficult to justify. The NHL – even under Shanahan – has not enforced a consistent standard for these sorts of hits. Raffi Torres has a long track record of iffy hits, hammered a star player in a major market, is not a star player himself, plays in the NHL’s most insignificant market, and was roundly vilified by fans and the press prior to this suspension being announced. In short, he’s the perfect target for a massive suspension.
My hope is that this is the start of a more consistently vigilant Department of Player Safety. My fear is that the NHL’s hammering an easy target and will instead slink away when something else – say, Milan Lucic running Ryan Miller, or Shea Weber grabbing Henrik Zetterberg’s head and smashing it into the glass, or one of a hundred other things – happens. As it is, this is a hard suspension to reconcile with the NHL’s previous decisions. That doesn’t make it the wrong decision, unless it remains hard to reconcile with future decisions.
I strongly suspect that this is a one-off. If it is, then the NHL made the wrong call.