The Vancouver Canucks have enough to worry about, facing elimination in their first-round series against the Los Angeles Kings on Sunday (CBC,CBCSports.ca, 8 p.m. ET), but the stiff suspension to Raffi Torres raised some eyebrows in Canucks dressing room.
The 30-year-old Phoenix Coyotes forward was suspended 25 games on Saturday for his first-period headshot on Chicago Blackhawks veteran Marian Hossa in Game 3 of that series on April 17.
Torres not only spent the 2010-11 season with the Canucks, but Vancouver forward Daniel Sedin recently returned to action after missing four weeks because of an elbow to the head from Blackhawks defenceman Duncan Keith. The Canucks didn't like the fact that Keith only received a five-game banishment for his headshot.
"In my opinion [Torres's hit] was closer to being a hockey play - finishing his check late - than Duncan Keith on Danny. That's not a hockey play," said Canucks head coach Alain Vigneault after his team's practice on Saturday. The Canucks trail the Kings 3-1 after a 3-1 victory in Game 4 in Los Angeles on Wednesday.
"One gets a certain amount, the other gets a higher amount," Vigneault added. "I don't know it's probably a little confusing for a lot of people right now."
In a statement, Torres remarked that he would take a few days before deciding on rather to appeal Brendan Shanahan's decision. Torres will forfeit $21,341.46 US in salary as a result of the suspension.
Besides being a dirty hit that violated three different penalties - interference, charging and an illegal head check - Hossa was severely injured on the play and Torres has a history of being in trouble with the league.
History of hits
The Canucks know that history. Torres was suspended for four games for an elbow to the head of Edmonton Oilers rookie Jordan Eberle on April. 5.
Then in his first game back, in Game 3 of Vancouver's first-round series against Chicago last spring, Torres hit Blackhawks defenceman Brent Seabrook in the head behind the Chicago goal.
Torres was given a two-minute penalty for the hit on Seabrook, but was not suspended. Seabrook missed two games and the hit seemed to be a rallying point for the Blackhawks. They won the next three games, only to lose in overtime in the seventh and deciding game in Vancouver.
Vigneault was asked if he ever had to tell Torres to tone down his act.
"No, we just told Raffi to play," the Canucks coach said. "In our minds, you couldn't put too many things in Raffi's head. That's not being negative. Raffi had to play with his heart and his instincts. You just had to let him go.
"He was a very effective player. Obviously, the game has changed in the last couple years in some aspects. He's going to have to adjust the way he plays."
And if another former Canuck in Matt Cooke can undergo the remarkable the reformation he did this season with the Pittsburgh Penguins, maybe there is hope for Torres.
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