Raffi Torres banned until hearing
Phoenix Coyotes winger Raffi Torres has been suspended indefinitely, pending a hearing on Friday for his hit on Chicago Blackhawks forward Marian Hossa during Game 3 of their Western Conference quarterfinal series Tuesday, the league announced.
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That means Torres will miss at least Thursday's Game 4. Hossa also was ruled out for Game 4.
"Sounds like (the NHL is) going down the right road," Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews said. "They're off to a good start."
After the game Torres said: "First off, I hope he's all right. As far as the hit goes, I just felt like it was a hockey play, just trying to finish my hit out there."
It is not the first time Torres has been suspended. While with the Vancouver Canucks last season, he served a suspension at the end of the regular season, and when he returned in the playoffs against the Blackhawks, he hit defenseman Brent Seabrook in what some considered a dirty play. Torres also was suspended earlier this season.
"It was the same thing when (Torres) was with Vancouver last year," Toews said. "He probably thought that was a hockey play, too.
"There is no remorse at all with a guy like that. When ... (you) have a guy carried out on a stretcher and he probably doesn't feel bad about it at all, that's not hockey to me."
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The hearing was planned for Wednesday but was rescheduled at Torres' request. It will be convened at the NHL's New York office. An in-person meeting could result in a suspension of more than five games.
Phoenix coach Dave Tippett, perhaps responding to the Blackhawks' criticism of Torres, brought up a March 21 incident, when Blackhawks defenseman Duncan Keith was suspended five games for a hit on Vancouver's Daniel Sedin.
"I've seen a lot of other hits like it around the league; it's a fast game," Tippett said. "The thing about TV is you can slow it down and you can click it and click it and click it, but when you're out there on the ice it's not slowed down and click, click, click.
"I don't think there was a malicious intent on Raffi's part. He's a hard hitter, that's the way he plays the game and he turned coming full speed, caught a guy right in the chest, and unfortunately the player was injured. I don't think there was a malicious intent like you see some of the crosschecks to the face or you saw (Keith's) elbow a few weeks ago on Sedin, there was no malicious intent like that."
Coyotes general manager Don Maloney also chafed at the criticism Torres has received.
"You would think Raffi murdered a busload of children the way he's portrayed here in Chicago," Maloney told the Arizona Republic. "To me, it was part of a hockey play, and I'm not defending it. Obviously an offense occurred, but it was not a situation where he took his stick and hit someone in the head. Probably two hundredths of a second it went from being a regular hit to being a little late hit."
Torres appeared to jump into the hit at 11:51 of the first period, lowering his shoulder against the head of Hossa, who no longer had the puck. The NHL is trying to protect players from concussions by cracking down on shots to the head.
No penalty was called on Torres, and Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville called the officiating a "disgrace."
Hossa was immobilized, carried off the ice on a stretcher, taken to a hospital and released later Tuesday night.
"It was a brutal hit," Quenneville said Tuesday. "I saw exactly what happened and it was right in front of me. All four guys missed it. It was hard. The refereeing tonight was a disgrace."
Quenneville might face a fine for his remarks on the officiating.
The hit sparked an intense reaction from Blackhawks fans. Coyotes announcer Tyson Nash, who once played for Quenneville on the St. Louis Blues, told "The Waddle & Silvy Show" Wednesday on ESPN 1000 that he received death threats for calling the play a clean hit.
Nash recanted those remarks after viewing more replays of the incident.
Phoenix leads the series 2-1.
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