Raffi Torres has been suspended for the rest of the second round, no matter how long it goes, because of his illegal check to the head of Jarret Stoll on Tuesday night. You can see the hit here and from a reverse angle here.
The San Jose Sharks forward attended an in-person hearing at NHL offices on Thursday and the suspension was handed down after that.
Obviously this is one of the more bizarre suspensions to come around in quite some time and I’m not sure if there’s any precedent for it.
The thing is that the ban could be for anywhere between three and six games theoretically. Players have the right to dispute any suspension that is six games or longer, which this suspension very well could be depending on how the Sharks do against the Los Angeles Kings. But Torres won’t know if his ban is that long and if he even can dispute it until the ban reaches its conclusion, for better or worse for the Sharks.
We’ll call it a “floating suspension” and it’s tricky.
Whatever we decide in our own Internet discussions on the topic, the NHL’s Department of Player Safety has decided that the head was the principal point of contact in this incident. But initial contact was the shoulder, wasn’t it?
“Although we’d agree that Torres might make initial contact with Stoll’s shoulder,” Brendan Shanahan says in the video explanation, “that is a glancing blow. In fact, the head is the principal point of contact.”
The evidence is as follows: Suppose Torres connected with Stoll on the shoulder. The King would’ve been knocked towards another King, Dwight King, along the boards. But Stoll is “sent spinning” by the Torres check instead, with the Shark “sliding through his hit.” That slide-through is “characteristic of many illegal checks to the head.” Or something.
The problem here is really that Torres is such a repeat offender that it’s becoming ridiculous. Even if he did connect with the shoulder first, it appears that the NHL will look for opportunities and even lessons on bodies in motion to throw the proverbially confusing book at him.
Torres made a bad decision, but this isn’t really a dirty hit. He didn’t leave his feet, didn’t elevate, didn’t use his elbow. But one too many visits to the suspension list can’t have helped and that’s why Torres is sitting for however long he’s sitting for.