It’s time for Raffi Torres to stop with the controversial hits, says Don Cherry.
While some might disagree with the latest punishment handed the San Jose Sharks forward for an illegal check against Jarret Stoll of the Los Angeles Kings, Torres is a marked man, based on his track record, according to the Hockey Night in Canada personality.
The National Hockey League on Thursday suspended Torres for the remainder of the Sharks’ second-round Stanley Cup playoff series with L.A., meaning he could miss three to six games as the Kings take a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven series into Saturday’s Game 3 in San Jose.
'Twenty years ago, you would’ve got a medal for doing something like this.' — Don Cherry on Raffi Torres's hit against Jarret Stoll
In Tuesday’s series opener, Stoll was bent forward while trying to play a bouncing puck when Torres approached him from the side for a violent hit at 19:02 of the second period. Stoll’s head snapped back violently before he fell forward onto the ice. Stoll left the ice, didn’t return to the game and was scratched for Game 2 Thursday.
"I like Stoll [but] I don’t think he [Torres] should have got [as severe a suspension]," Cherry said. "If it hadn’t have been Raffi Torres, it would have been maybe a game.
"Twenty years ago, you would’ve got a medal for doing something like this."
In an explanatory video released by Brendan Shanahan, the NHL's senior vice-president of player safety, he said Stoll's head was "the principal point of contact" in the hit, creating grounds for suspension. Although Torres initially made contact with Stoll's right shoulder, Shanahan ruled that the shoulder hit was only a glancing blow, as evidenced by the direction both players travelled after the contact.
No plans to appeal
According to Hockey Night, Torres will not appeal the suspension, while San Jose general manager Doug Wilson viewed the suspension as "grossly unfair" and supported Torres.
While playing for Phoenix last season, he received a 21-game suspension, initially 25 games, for a high hit on Chicago star Marian Hossa in the first round of the playoffs.
Torres was suspended for two games in January 2012 for charging Minnesota defenceman Nate Prosser and for four games in April 2011 for a hit to the head of Edmonton's Jordan Eberle while playing for Vancouver.
A Toronto native, the 31-year-old Torres stayed out of trouble while playing for Phoenix this season, scoring five goals and 12 points in 28 games. He was dealt to the Sharks, his seventh NHL team, prior to the April 3 trade deadline and added two goals and six points in 11 contests.
Torres scored once in San Jose's four-game sweep of Vancouver to open these playoffs.
"He [Torres] does stupid things [and] gets the NHL mad at him all the time," said Cherry, noting Torres recently was thrown out of a faceoff after knocking the puck out of the linesman’s hands with his stick in an attempt to buy more time after an icing call.
"I knew this kid when he played for the Thornhill Rattlers [of the Metro Junior A Hockey League] in the late 1990s," added Cherry. He was a scorer back then. He’s gotta stop [the illegal hits]."