Throw the Book at Torres

Raffi Torres and his crazy eyes

If the NHL wants to prove that it is serious in its war against head shots then the time is now.

In game 3 of the Vancouver Canucks’ series against the Chicago Blackhawks, Raffi Torres nailed star Chicago defenseman Brent Seabrook in the head (See video here). Torres was playing in his first game back, fresh off of an, in my opinion, unjust 4 game suspension with his hit to the head of a reaching Jordan Eberle.

The hit on Seabrook was the kind of hit you cringe. It’s the kind of thing that the NHL and NFL are trying eliminate.

Head shots.

There is a lot of debate already to whether Torres’ hit was in fact illegal. You can even see in the video Raffi Torres is claiming the newly implemented rule 48 – Illegal Check to the Head. Bob McKenzie tweeted last night he believed initially that this was a classic case of rule 48 “Blindside hit, principal pt of contact to head or targeted head shot.” However, he subsequently tweeted that “When NHL GMs created Rule 48, they allowed area behind net is “hitting area” and players need to be more aware than, say, in neutral zone.”

To be honest, that second tweet just sounds like more ambiguity than anything else and it seems as though there can be a wide range of interpretations to the Torres hit.

The other big issue that McKenzie points out is “principal point of contact. Was it a straight on body check where shoulder also struck head or a “head shot.”??” There is no doubt in my mind that this is a head shot, not a case of his shoulder also striking the head. Whether or not Raffi Torres intended to hit Seabrook in the head is anyone’s guess but there is undeniably a great degree of recklessness involved in the play.

What has to be taken into account here is that Raffi Torres is a repeat offender and I’m not just talking about his most recent hit to Eberle. The CBC broadcast showed his Scott Stevens like elbow to the head of Milan Michalek way back in 2006, which is about as dirty a play as you’re going to see in the NHL.

Repeat offenders need to be punished. When repeat offenders are not punished you get Matt Cooke.

Related: NHL Head Shots

The NHL often finds ways to cop-out of making the hard decision with their interpretation of the vague guidelines set in the rule book. Although it was too harsh to suspend Raffi Torres those 4 games previously, it was (almost) nice to see the NHL make an attempt at showing the players that the Matt Cooke 10 game plus the first round of playoffs suspension wasn’t an anomaly even if it was the wrong one.

They must not revert back to their old ways.

I reiterate, this is a repeat offender. Even if there is a possibility that his hit was in the hazy boundaries of rule 48, a lengthy suspension will deter future offenders. This might have been said with the latest Matt Cooke suspension but I now believe that this decision on Torres will be the monumental verdict that will shape the nature of head shots for the NHL in the next 5 years.

Brent Seabrook shortly after Raffi Torres' shot to his head

This is the turning point in the game, the defining moment of a career. This is for all the marbles.

If the NHL wants to protect its product and its players then they have to come down hard on Torres. Anything less than five games should be heart wrenching for fans. That look of confusion that Seabrook had on the bench following the hit as he attempted to get his mind refocused, like a drunk convincing himself that he is okay to drive, will be the look on your favourite player in due time if the NHL doesn’t fix this pandemic.

Don’t think that the NHL is becoming the “No Hit League” either as some callous fans have deemed it. The safety of the player’s is priority number one and if you don’t care about that then take a look at the latest studies on the effects of concussions and then tell me what you think.

If you watched the game you must have seen Canucks defenseman Dan Hamhuis rock the world of Markus Kruger. That’s what the NHL is all about. It was as clean as my bathroom after using my magic eraser.

If you’re kid does something bad and you don’t punish him he will do it again. Colin Campbell doesn’t know whether he wants to be the good cop or the bad cop though. Well, it’s time for Colin Campbell to fully embrace his inner bad cop and throw the book at Raffi Torres.

Update: Raffi Torres was not suspended by the NHL. In other news, Benoit Pouliot and Chris Kunitz both threw out head shots on Monday in protest…at least I think they were protesting.

Agree? Disagree? If you have any questions, comments, suggestions, please feel free to reply in the comments section below. Or you can e-mail me at I am now on twitter follow me @paintstheblack and I will gladly return the favour.

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21 Responses to Throw the Book at Torres

  1. IslandersFan2001 says:

    Horrible writer, very bias. Clean hit and I am not a huge fan of the Canucks either.. As Don Cherry would say.. “Keep your Head Up Kids”.

    • classic17 says:

      Pretty sure the writer is a Canucks fan. But maybe you’re right as he’s super biased when calling for a player on his own team to get suspended. Makes perfect sense.

    • I have to respond to this says:

      Pure comedy.

      An actual person writes: “Horrible writer, very bias.” What’s next in your commenting life? “Lurn how to spell, idiot”? How about this: “You don’t know hockey! That was the best first quarter in the history of the game!”

      Free mini-class for you, my dim-witted friend who likes to criticize others for doing what he can’t do himself: It’s “biased.”

      • Otmane says:

        would’ve been Q saying, I think the call on the ice shluod’ve been different, I didn’t agree with it; now it’s up to the league (Shanahan) to decide. And that would’ve been the end of it, til the hearing.That’s the difference between these two teams. The Canucks players and their coach have built a reputation for crying, whining, diving; shluod they be surprised that people think they’re crying wolf now? Even Henrik himself said earlier this season that the reputation had become unacceptable and that the team had the talent and skill that they shluodn’t be diving or anything like it. They really shluodn’t; they DO have the skills and talent to play amazing, entertaining hockey. So do it, Vancouver. Other fans and teams will have far more respect for you winning and playing fairly than your current tactics.I’m not saying Keith was innocent in the move. I do believe he didn’t intend to actually injure Daniel; after all, he’s seen his partner, Seabrook, intentionally knocked out twice (Wisniewski and Torres). Toews is still out with a concussion. (No doubt if he’d actually been on the ice last night, the Canucks players would’ve gone after him with a vengeance in an attempt of retribution. As it was, we witnessed attempt after attempt to run Blackhawks players; Burrows trying to knee Keith; attempts to run over Crawford, players attempting to fight, etc.) But then again, maybe he snapped for a moment. Maybe he was sick and f***ing tired of having other teams think they can take ongoing liberties with the Blackhawks and never get penalized for it. And Daniel Sedin just happened to be standing in front of him at that moment.If it gets the refs and linesmen to start watching matchups between the Hawks and Canucks more closely and call more stringently, then a suspension is worth it. As it is, the Canucks have repeatedly gotten away with plenty of ugly plays both on Chicago and Vancouver ice. They’re not innocent, no matter how hard their fans try to argue that they are. They’re often sneaky, yes, but not innocent. If the Canucks wanted to gain the respect of other teams across the league they seem bewildered and surprised and butt-hurt that other teams and fans don’t like them, after all, despite their protests that they don’t care then they would start behaving like other teams do, and stop trying to make big post-game we’re so wounded appeals to the media for every little play. I used to actually really enjoy watching the Canucks play, but every time one of them gets away with sneaky crap (vs Hawks or any other team) or is busy crying to the media, the respect that once was there and the enjoyment has slowly eroded away. There’s still a few players I enjoy watching (Schneider, Mason, Malhotra) and I don’t want to dislike them, too.Personally, I think the refs shluod have let Shaw go at it with Bieska. Bieska would’ve been mighty surprised to find out just how much fight that Shawzer’s got in him and #65 wouldn’t have given a damn that Bieska’s got a 2 inches and 10 pounds on him.

  2. Very true, those are some terrible hits right there. He should be suspended once again. It’s time for the NHL to step up to the plate and not be afraid to do this.

    • Andromeda says:

      Neutral fan here trying to ursnndtaed Tab’s logic. The blog post argues that because certain Vancouver players have made questionable, injurious hits in the past (and dirt-baggy cat fight actions) they are hypocrites for calling for stiff penalties on Duncan Keith for his elbow to Daniel Sedin’s face. I’m not sure I buy that logic for the following reasons:- After any questionable event (Torres on Seabrook, Burrows on Keith, etc.) fans are going to whine and call for life in prison. Every fanbase does it, some more vocally than others. Amidst this outcry, the league has to made a decision how (and how long) to penalize based on existing rules.- When any top player takes an illegal and intentional elbow to the face, fans will (and should) demand stiff penalties. A history of dirty hits (which the Canucks are actually relatively clean in this department compared to other teams) and dirtbag plays (which the Canucks are quite guilty of compared to other teams) may make Hawk fans upset, but you have to separate it from the kind of hit we are trying to remove from the game.- Most people calling for stiff penalties on Keith are not Canuck fans most fans and columnists, even some from Chicago, agree that Keith should be shelved for at least 3-5 games; it’s just easy to call out Canuck fans as whiners.- Even Sedin’s sloppy hit, which should have been penalized, is only relevant insofar as it made Keith’s hit premeditated. Steve Moore’s hit on Naslund was unpenalized and dirty, but it only made Bertuzzi’s retribution more damning in the end. At the end of the day, Shanahan is going to Shanaban Keith for 3-7 days. Hawk fans will complain about Vancouver’s lobbying and bring up questionable tactics Vancouver players have used in the past, while most other fans (Canuck fans included) will think it’s not enough time.

  3. Josh says:

    Campbell hit on Kesler was way worse, but because CBC didn’t even mention it, it never became a big deal. If this hit was the other way around, Seabrook on Torres, you never would have heard anything other than ‘Torres gets rocked by Seabrook”. Bias at its greatest extent.

  4. Thunderbird#10 says:

    Torres got a minor penalty by NHL refs who had the best view and were aware of Torres’ history and obviously the rules of the game. Rule 48 is for head shots and that was not a head shot as per their interpretation. Sure the hit was hard enough that Seabrook’s head whipped to the side and got hit, but the “principal point of contact” was the chest by the elbow.

    It was ruled an interference. And that’s all it is so far.

    Obviously he could have played a bit softer given his suspension, but he’s the typical hockey player that has only an on or off switch in the playoffs. I’m all for safe and legal play but this and the hit to Eberle is nothing compared to what it was in the past, or recent months. And really, the suspension would not have been made by Campbell if Torres hit anyone other than a young future star player.

    Quenneville was stupid for allowing Seabrook to continue to play, this action essentially downplaying the hit. Sure they wanted to show that he was not worse for wear so as not to give the Canucks any more momentum. But later he comments to the media that it should have been a major and they could’ve gotten 4 goals in an extended power play….? Maybe 4 shots they way they’ve been playing the PP. And 3 of those would’ve been blocked or wide of the net.

    You have to love how he is so biased, whereas in the case of A.V.’s comments on Getzlaf’s hit on Dan Hamhuis was more objective in that Dan was also blamed for not anticipating or being aware of the hit. Which by the was was behind the net and it is understood Rule 48 assumes players should be aware behind the net given the physical lack of space and lane-way which is therefore more prone to collisions.

    As a UBC arts student you may want to go into journalism in the future. I’d say stay away unless you can be more objective, do better analysis, research and be able to lay down your case in a professional manner. Otherwise, there’s the Enquirer…or the Province.

    If you want to make a difference in this journalistic area of there-are-way-too-many-sports-blogs-out-there-already, I suggest you do some research on some theses such as: study the history of calls from NHL brass and whether there is a bias towards star players (i.e. whether they get off scott-free like Chara, or finally get these types of hits noticed as in the case with Crosby). Learn statistics and employ the power of correlation techniques. Learn to do some meaningful objective research while you are in school so you can write with more evidence-based content and rise above most of the virtual fodder out there. You will thank me for it later.

    Class dismissed.

    • Chris Ross says:

      Okay I want to respond to a couple of people here. First @Rags, Torres’ time as a repeat offender would not be “reset” considering his latest hit on Eberle was deemed illegal by the NHL, hence the 4 game suspension. Secondly, if you want to reset the clock on repeat offenders than we might as well be resetting the clock on criminals, which I think does not make a whole lot of sense. Also, I feel that if you stop the video right at the moment of the hit you see nothing but shoulder contacting the head. Try stopping the hit from the moment of contact in the second view on the video I gave because all I see is his head immediately whipping backwards caused by the impact directly from the shoulder.

      @Thunderbirds#10 — Okay, the first comment you make is absolutely ridiculous. You say the refs have the best view point like human referees don’t ever make any mistakes when the play is going at a hundred miles an hour. Well maybe you’re right, I mean, I’ve never heard of a referee being wrong before so that’s a very good opening argument right there. Next, it doesn’t even look like you have read the article. I felt the Torres suspension was too harsh yet you’re talking about it like we disagree on the issue. Moreover, saying that Campbell only gave him that much because it was on a young star like Eberle doesn’t have much validity considering Steckel wasn’t even suspended for his hit on Crosby.

      I think I’m going to avoid making a comment on the latter part of your comment considering you give the impression you have only read the title and then come to a conclusion about who I am as a writer. A very objective, professional thing of you to do.

      • @Thunderbirds#10 says:

        What is absolutely ridiculous is your reply comment. Of course I never said officials are perfect and they are not. However, with their training, experience, viewpoint, knowledge, and the ability for all of them to discuss calls amongst themselves and also have access to video review, they make the right calls better than anyone else. We all cry foul on bad calls but come on now. If you know better then you should go try out to be an NHL ref. If the refs do not have the best view and knowledge of the game then they should be removed altogether. No game is run perfectly but neither are most things in life. However, you go with the best you’ve got and the current officiating system is as best as humans can do on a game that is blistering fast with players playing on the edge to keep their pro-league contracts. So what are you doing about this other than complaining? Well as engineers, we are working on future sporting analytics that will make the video review of today look like silent movies and border on quantum-based instant reviews. So lets all evolve here.

        At the end of the day, the NHL ruled it was exactly as I had explained it: link. So, after all night of hi-def video reviewing from all possible angles they concurred with the refs on the call (so the refs were “right” this time). I’m still confused as to how they think but at least this time the explanation made sense, and at least there is an almost identical hit on their “legal hits” video (youtube link – check out the 4min mark). So they had to give the nod to Raffi on that decision even if it pained “Colon” Campbell in the rear (my read: Bruins are looking to sign Raffi next year if Canucks let him go so they don’t want him tagged as a repeat…haha).

        And my side comment on the Eberle hit, it was not a comment on your fine penmanship. I was commenting on the NHL’s ruling on the hit compared to hits in the past. Am I not allowed to add my own comments or are we only allowed to comment on your text here? Then please provide line numbers so we can help you understand our comments through numerical referencing. I read your article (and you write well so i’ll give you that) and so your telling me that I just read your headline is really off-side here. And you have the gall to FINALLY try to make your blog “a bit more objective” by changing the picture on Raffi Torres with a more “objective” picture than the original one with his “crazy eyes” (which i’ll show you the evidence of here as of 18 Apr 2011 06.22.24 GMT): link.

        As an engineer and a hockey player i’m trained to take in all the details quickly so your mis-plays caught you flat-footed there: Journalism Rule #1- don’t ever change your story after you publish it. Rule #2 – Admit when you’ve made a mistake because you, like NHL refs, are far from perfect. Otherwise you will look stupid twice.

        And Stechkel wasn’t suspended for his hit on Crosby because it wasn’t a hit anything like as defined by Rule 48. It was as much as Crosby’s fault for cutting into Stechkel’s lane and watching the puck. But notice how head-shots suddenly rose up the ranks of priority issues and policies after it happened. Like I said, they are protecting their commodities that make them rich–an obvious business model. If Stechkel had rather hit Cooke, it would be status quo at NHL HQ. And like I said you may want to research that thesis, maybe go to grad school so you can become a quality writer unlike so many out there. You have talent so don’t do a recent Towes-trip and unclass yourself.

        Class dismissed.

      • Chris Ross says:

        Okay I don’t think there’s any point arguing anymore, but I just want to point out that this picture was changed because something messed up or someone took it off I have no idea why but I had to put a new one up. I would never change my story after I published it. Other than the picture, which was not to change some objectivity, nothing was changed in this post or anything else that I have written. I don’t know what you’re talking about with admit my mistake, what is this mistake you’re talking about. If it’s the picture I canthe old one back up for you because I have no problem with that but I just don’t want to have to constantly go back and change it cuz I dont want my article without a picture when I’m not on my computer to change. Please, if you want to bash what I’m doing that’s fine but don’t be so quick to judge when this picture change had nothing to do with what you said.

  5. Rags says:

    I’ll start by admitting that I am a Canucks fan, so you can question the objectivity in my position all you want. I see a lot of writing above, but I don’t see much support for anything you said.

    First of all, you call him a repeat offender. You question the validity of the Eberle hit as an example, and go back to 2006 on his hit on Michalek. If he’s a repeating these every 5 years or so, I think at some point in between you have to hit the reset button on the counter.

    Secondly, you say that “There is no doubt in my mind that this is a head shot, not a case of his shoulder also striking the head.” I don’t really see any support for this from the video that you provided. Torres had his elbows down, and skated into Seabrook’s front. It was not a case where Seabrook was leaning forward and exposing his head outside of the frame of his body and Torres skated by and hit only the head.

    At the end of the day, you are entitled to your own opinion. But as a “sports writer”, if you want to call yourself that, I would suggest that you put more support and homework into it before you put pen to paper.

  6. classic17 says:

    I would’ve given Torres two games. This was a lot like Joe Thornton’s hit on David Perron earlier this year. Thornton got a game misconduct and two games for that and Perron didn’t play anymore after that game. Given Torres’ history and Seabrook’s ability to keep playing, I think two would have been right.

  7. Thunderbird#10 says:

    Classy how you just close off the thread. And nice excuse, but then again being an Arts student you may be technically challenged. However, as you are technically-inclined enough to update the photo, here is the URL to the original one you used you can cut’n’paste: And BTW, the URL is still working so not sure what technical glitch you had there as wordpress is quite solid on things like this and the photo URL from GlobalTV did not change.

    And don’t forget to fix the picture title back to “Raffi Torres and his crazy eyes” as you originally wrote (the title is actually the controversial bit here and got me a bit fired up with Raffi being my buddy)

    And the Mistake? It’s the mistake of not reading my reply properly and assuming I never read your article (I get paid fairly well to read and write stuff you will probably never understand). But a bigger mistake is the mistake of changing the picture AND the picture title, while not even making an editor’s note about it. Notice how even newspapers admit to their faults and they still get read. It’s called good and ethical protocols. But you can fix it now that you’ve had the help of your friendly neighbourhood engineer.


    • Chris Ross says:

      Man, I’m telling you that there was no intention on my part to do that. I hate when people make excuses and I guess I should take some blame for screwing that up but I’m in the midst of studying for finals right now, which I’m sure you are too, I just wanted to get a picture back on my post asap.

      As for closing off this thread, I’d be happy to discuss this another time when I’m not super busy.

      I wanted to let this one go but you constantly trying to show me that you’re someone who is incredibly important and intelligent is highly unnecessary. I can respect your opinion without knowing that you’re an engineer, hockey player and super reader (of stuff that I will never be able to understand). I mean, how insecure are you?

      • Thunderbird#10 says:

        Did I forget to mention I sh*t rainbows too? Sure i’m important. But not important enough to have my very own blog. Ha, I’m just playing with you because you’re in Arts. It’s a friendly nudge if you understand the collegiate history at UBC. Nothing personal and i’m just trying to give you suggestions, as you asked of your readers: “Agree? Disagree? If you have any questions, comments, suggestions, please feel free to reply in the comments” So please take what you dish out. But careful who you dish it out to as us nerds can be relentless. And edgy. Like your blog. And our good friend Raffi.

        It’s playoff time…how can anyone study with all these quality games and quality blogs? They should accelerate classes and have exams end before April. I’ll bring it up at the next faculty meeting.

        See you on the ice…and keep yer head up!

        End of Regulation Time.

      • Wow, that’s quite some debate you two have there. Sounds like Wilbon vs. Kornheiser on PTI x1000!

  8. Steve Thompson says:

    This hit reminds me of the Jeff Carter hit on Samela. Neither Seabrook nor Samela were expecting to get hit and both Torres and Carter were hitting through their checks which is what you are taught from day one in minor hockey practice.

    I’m actually glad the NHL is using discretion and are sticking to their intent with the new rule instead of the NFL approach which turned into Roger Goodell, essentially, forcing James Harrison to stop tackling quarterbacks and smaller receivers lest he be fined every Tuesday following the weekend’s game.

    If you had grown up playing a real sport, like hockey or football, you would know that injuries are a constant risk and you have to be aware and protect yourself at all times. That doesn’t excuse players from maliciously going out to injure, but there must be some responsibility for knowing when you’re vulnerable and I think one of the reasons the bleeding hearts are upset about this hit is because Seabrook was not ready to be checked. The NHL, and hockey in general, is not for the faint of heart. If it gets softer because players can’t even lower the boom on an opponent I will stop watching entirely which likely isn’t anyone’s concern unless there are more out there like me.

    I am a Vancouver fan but my main bias is I enjoy watching physical play during athletic competition. I don’t like sports where the opponents are separated by a net, but I realize some people want hockey to be more like badminton than a battling. The Getzlaf hit on Hamhuis was fine in my books, as are both Torres’ latest.

    BTW T-Bird10: I’m an Arts student and I hate Arts students too.

  9. Dallas says:

    Good take Chris. I wish I could stir up some conversation but I completely agree with every point you made.

    I actually thought the GM’s were on the right track at their last set of meetings when they talked about calling more charges. In my opinion, a lot of these type of hits could be eliminated if the league just got tougher on calling charges. This should be the definition of a 5-minute charging penalty and a 1-game suspension.

  10. Ryan Karhut says:

    Who’s the clown that said Don Cherry is right? If we listened to Don Cherry the NHL would only be Canadian players, no one would were a helmet and there would be no doctors, trainers or too many men penalties.

    I agree with Chris how ridiculous was the no suspension then Downie gets a game for the same hit and he’s not a repeat offender who just served a suspension the previous 4 games! Ridiculous NHL

  11. Ryan Karhut says:

    Nevermind it was an Islanders fan that posted it……that tells me all I need to know.

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