Canucks' Torres suspended into the playoffs
Forward to sit 4 games for elbow on Eberle
Vancouver Canucks forward Raffi Torres was suspended for four games on Thursday by the NHL in response to an incident in the team's game against Edmonton earlier this week.
The veteran forward will miss regular season games against Minnesota and Calgary, as well as the first two games of Vancouver's first-round playoff series.
Torres elbowed rookie Oilers forward Jordan Eberle in a 2-0 away loss to the Oilers at Rexall Place on Tuesday.
Canucks general manager Mike Gillis confirmed the suspension to reporters, saying he strongly disagreed with the decision.
"We strongly disagree with it but we are going to move on here and get ready for the playoffs," Gillis said. "I thought it was a hockey play."
The hit on Eberle occurred late in the third period. Torres' elbow hit Eberle's head as the Oilers forward was reaching for the puck.
Edmonton's Ryan O'Marra quickly came to the defence of Eberle and a fight followed.
Torres was assessed a five-minute major penalty for elbowing and a game misconduct, plus a five-minute major for fighting.
Torres said he has seen replays of the hit and maintains he did nothing wrong.
"What I am doing is trying to finish my hit," Torres said in an interview prior to the suspension being announced. "He puts his hand up right at the last second.
"He knows I'm coming."
Torres, who has never been suspended before in his career, shrugged when asked if the league might make an example of him as the NHL tries to reduce hits to the head.
"I don't think there is anything to be made of it," he said. "It's a good, clean hit.
"I haven't heard anything but positive feedback from everybody that has talked to me. People that have talked to me, if they thought it was dirty they would tell me."
In interviews after the game Torres was unapologetic for the hit.
Gillis was asked if he thought Torres' comments might have cost him some extra games.
"A lot of people made a lot of comments about that hit," Gillis said. "A lot of them were inappropriate in my mind.
"I think they [the NHL] viewed it from an on-ice perspective."
Torres, 29, signed a one-year, $1-million US free-agent contract with the Canucks last August. The six-foot, 215-pound left-winger has 14 goals and 15 assists and 78 penalty minutes in 80 games this season.
The nine-year veteran has also played for the New York Islanders, Edmonton Oilers, Columbus Blue Jackets and Buffalo Sabres.
Torres has been most recently playing on a line with Mason Raymond and Jannik Hansen.
He spent a lot of time this season on a line with Manny Malhotra, but the centre has been lost for the year due to a serious eye injury. Malhotra released a statement on Wednesday thanking fans and the Canucks organization for their support.
Torres also forfeits just under $11,000 in salary as a result of the NHL's decision.
The Canucks host the Wild on Thursday night at Rogers Arena, and will be presented with the Presidents' Trophy for finishing as the NHL's top team in points.
With files from CBCSports.ca