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Raffi Torres on Brent Seabrook: No Suspension



New USA Today: No suspension for Torres on the Seabrook hit – a call for common sense


Off to Glendale to find a story for Puck Daddy tomorrow, enjoy the game!


9 Responses to “Raffi Torres on Brent Seabrook: No Suspension”
  1. The Old Firm says:

    I generally agree with you that there probably should have been a suspension on Torres, and I’m about a diehard Canucks fan as they come. Part of the problem, as I see it, is that this would have been a clean hit, no questions asked, six months ago. Add into all that the fact that the NHL has not been consistent in the least with its interpretation of the rules, or the application thereof. The Abdelkader hit on Seabrook springs to mind. Everyone is still trying to figure out what is, and isn’t a good hit these days.

    I hate to say it, but I’ve lost my trust in Torres. I still like the guy, but he needs to step back from the edge a bit. He can still be a highly effective member of the team without catching guys like that.

    All that said, Bourne, at what point is it Seabrook’s responsibility to keep his head up and be aware of his surroundings?

  2. darrent says:

    There should have been a suspension and part of the reason for this suspension should have been based on history. Torres has had his share of predatory hits in his career and this is exactly what this was. The idea of suspensions I thought was to curb and punish unwanted behavior. Why does the league take a reactionary approach – they dole out the punishment AFTER someone has been injured? I am a huge Wings fan and I think they missed a big opportunity with Abdelkader and his elbow on Seabrook. So what if Seabrook wasn’t hurt, he elbowed him and it was to the head. Punish the act, whether there is intent or not, whether the player is injured or not. If someone accidentally high sticks someone and doesn’t hurt anyone, you don’t let him go because it was an accident and no one was hurt.
    We always talk about how the game has changed, and yet those in charge of discipline happen to be guys from the old era. I would argue that there is nothing progressive about Colin Campbell and his crew. Having played the game I still think that they subscribe to the old player should have kept his head up. Yet they all agree that players are bigger and faster than they have ever been. So how can they make decisions using their expertise based on a game that no longer resembles anything they played?

  3. neil C. says:

    I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I find the NHL’s position on this to be far more reasonable than anything I’ve heard on TSN or hockey sites.

    History doesn’t come into play in their decision because the NHL doesn’t think he did anything suspendable. As Campbell put it: “This hit meets none of the criteria that would subject Torres to supplemental discipline”

    “Part of the problem, as I see it, is that this would have been a clean hit, no questions asked, six months ago”
    This wasn’t a blindside hit according to the NHL (blindside refers to the direction relative to the body that the hit comes from, not to the idea of hitting a guy who doesn’t happen to be looking at the incoming player), so it isn’t affected by the addition of rule 48 and it is just as legal/illegal now was it was six months ago. Campbell: “When Rule 48 (Illegal Check to the Head) was unanimously adopted by the General Managers in March 2010, there was no intention to make this type of shoulder hit to the head illegal.” (For example, Staal was not suspended for hitting Stajan in the head under Rule 48 because he hit Stajan in the head from the front). Seabrook’s belief that Torres should have been punished because “he made contact with the head first” demonstrates a poor understanding of Rule 48.

    “The idea of suspensions I thought was to curb and punish unwanted behavior”. You’re obviously correct. In this case, the NHL didn’t feel it was “unwanted behaviour” so it makes sense that they wouldn’t apply a suspension.

    As I see it, the only thing that you could possibly complain about here is that Seabrook was hit without having puck possession. I liked Bourne’s post on USA Today because as I understood it, he was basically arguing that it wasn’t a charge, it wasn’t an elbow, and it wasn’t a blindside hit (something the NHL thankfully agreed with, considering how obviously true this is), but that it was a dangerous hit on a vulnerable player who didn’t have the puck. I appreciate that Bourne’s not claiming the hit was something other than what it was to support the idea of throwing the book at a player people don’t like.

    However, I have to disagree with you Bourne on the question of puck possession. In this case, Seabrook was reaching out for the puck and was literally inches from touching it, BUT, most importantly, I think he deliberately delayed touching the puck because he was trying to come around the net with speed so he leaned into his turn and planned to take the puck with him on the side (rather than touching it as soon as possible and pushing it out front). There’s obviously nothing wrong with doing that, it’s a normal hockey play, but you have to be very aware of the fact that you’re coming around the net in a danger zone and that you will be forechecked the same way as if you had grabbed the puck right away. In other words, you have ‘puck possession’ before you’ve actually touched the puck (this may sound silly, but think about how many times a player protects the puck against the boards without actually touching it: other players proceed to hit, slash, crosscheck, etc., because it is assumed that he has puck possession regardless of whether or not his stick actually touched it yet). Yes, it’s a gray area, but the fact is, the NHL does not treat puck possession as a simple matter of “has he touched it yet”. The debate then is about when this possession would occur in Seabrook’s case, and considering that he was literally inches from touching the puck, we’re talking about fractions of a second. This is why Vignault didn’t like the interference call, and it’s also why the NHL didn’t suspend Torres.

    Yes, Torres cranked a guy in the head in a vulnerable position, and he could have easily hit him in the body instead. That’s a dick move, but as Steve Staois put it, you have to be aware that that hit is coming as a defensemen in that situation and Seabrook should be kicking himself for forgetting that. Hitting a guy hard and ‘clean’ in the head on purpose might be illegal in the rule book (as I understand it, intent to injure is something left up to the discretion of the ref) but the NHL NEVER makes that call. Not sure why, but they sure as hell shouldn’t start in game 3 of the playoffs.

  4. Me says:

    The Old Firm says: “All that said, Bourne, at what point is it Seabrook’s responsibility to keep his head up and be aware of his surroundings?”

    It is always Seabrook’s responsibility to keep his head up and be aware. It is also always Torres’ responsibility to deliver a ‘safe’ hit. Go shoulder to shoulder with the guy, go with the same speed/force, toss him half the distance to the side wall and I wouldn’t call it dirty. I’d call it a clean, hard hit that Seabrook should have seen coming. To ‘clip’ the guy, that is what I take offense to.

    Yes, I know that isn’t ‘clipping’ as defined in the rulebook, but that is how I’d describe the type of glancing blow which results in the hit-ee violently spinning around and the hitter proceeding on a relatively unchanged course after contact. I hesitate to call it a ‘glancing blow’ as that suggests little contact, little force, little possibility for damage…

    That type of hit seems to be common to a lot of the questionable and not so questionable hits which have occurred in recent years. It is a type of hit which allows the hitter to ‘sneak by’ and stay in the play while eliminating the hit-ee. It is also a type of hit which might go un-noticed by the ref as there isn’t a big pile-up. The hitter isn’t easily identified as he’s not down on the ice, but 5, 10, 20 feet away before the ref notices the other guy in a crumpled heap on the ice.

  5. Fish says:

    Players are responsible for their actions, true.

    But how plausible is it, that the coach has issued orders to hit Seabrook and Keith every chance they get? I mean Seabrook was hit hard at least 2 more times after this one (another time by Torres again)? It’s playoffs. It’s important for guys to “get into the game” an “be physical”. Not giving the opponent any time to think about the available plays is a big part of most teams game plan this time of year. Making big time players feel pain every time they move is an effective and proven way to limit their effectiveness, and ice time.

    Is it “the right thing” to do? Not to me, then again, I’m not trying my hardest to ge to the next round facing a team that has kicked my team out of the playoffs 2 years in a row. And Seabrook was a big part of both those instances.

  6. Mark says:

    The issue with Torres on Seabrook is one with hockey in general rather than that specific play. They can’t suspend him on that, because he didn’t really do anything wrong.

    The greater issue is one that you can even see in the terminology used. It’s not a “check,” but a “hit.” The checking part of bodychecking has been mostly removed. Bodychecking is very rarely done to check a player off the puck, but rather to try to smash a guy as hard as you can because he is vulnerable.

    I think that people are really going to have to take a long, hard look at that, because with how big/fast/strong/armoured the players are these days, as long as that is the mindset, guys are still going to be getting their brains scrambled. I’m not even completely sure how I feel about it. On the one hand, I love huge hits. On the other hand, it’s pretty tough to make a hit like that and be certain that you’re not going to ding the guy in the head. What we’re seeing right now is the NHL trying to figure out how to cut down on guys getting hit in the head without making the players scared to go for the huge hit, and I’m not sure if it’s even all that possible to do that effectively.

  7. Mark says:

    The place where I think that the league is really dropping the ball is on plays like Abdelkaeder on Seabrook, Heatley on Ott, or the Kunitz elbow on Gagne. Those plays should be getting HUGE suspensions, and they’re not, which makes the whole “crackdown” on hitting dudes in the head a bit of a farce.

  8. St. Cloud Gopher says:

    I think much of this is summed up nicely by Mark. There is a line, not so fine, between a “check” and a “hit.”

    In his second post, Mark also hits it on the head: What are players to think/do when suspensions/fines are so uneven. The fact that past aggression is taken into account is nice, but I think is the wrong message to send. I don’t care if it’s your first offense, you should be suspended/fined. Only by treating all players the same will it make sense. (I DO agree with an escalating system. If you continue to play in such a way, then increase the length/amount of suspensions/fines. But keep it the same no matter the player.)

    Somehow, the NHL and its players need to figure out a way to take out the hits to the head. A body check there would have been great. It would have separated the puck from the carrier (I’m with neil C. on this), the fans would have gotten the jolt from a HUGE hit (maybe even a flashier hit than what actually happened), Seabrook wouldn’t have hit the ice like a KO’d boxer (I think he was out for a moment. Seriously, he struggled to get up for a second there.) and the Hawks still could have responded in the common cross-check-to-”protect”-my-guy way (which is annoying when a legal, and clean, hit is delivered, but it is what it is).

    No one wants to take the check out of hockey. Hell, the fights can stay too. But at what point is something lost when these kinds of hits keep happening? I can see where the NHL is coming from on this. It’s borderline, it’s playoffs and it’s a highlight moment. It’s just going to be a sad, sad day when a hit like this ends a career. I’m sure the NHL will react to something like that with a major suspension. But it will be too late, both for the player, the league and its fans. The bar has been raised (lowered?) for the next time. And we all know there will be a next time.

  9. Neil C. says:

    I think these are both great points, Mark:

    “The issue with Torres on Seabrook is one with hockey in general rather than that specific play. They can’t suspend him on that, because he didn’t really do anything wrong.”

    “The place where I think that the league is really dropping the ball is on plays like Abdelkaeder on Seabrook, Heatley on Ott, or the Kunitz elbow on Gagne”

    It’s amazing to me that the punishment for a big charge on a guy with the puck (a la Downie) is the exact same for a guy who skates up to a guy from behind and reaches out half a foot to clip him in the head with an elbow. I think Downie deserves a suspension too (I was kind of hoping they’d just ban him for life after he destroyed McAmmond in the f-ing preseason and could be seen laughing as McAmmond lay motionless on the ice) but if that’s 1 game, Kunitz’s has to be at least 2. The sneaky elbow is not part of a hockey check, offenders should have the book thrown at them.

    I don’t want the head-first ‘hits’ taken out of the game. No one likes seeing a guy get hurt like that, but I don’t like seeing guys take slapshots in the face either and it doesn’t mean I think they should take slapshots out of the game. These guys get paid a shit-ton of money to do what they do. There is a physical price for making big money in almost every professional sport, I don’t think there is anything wrong with striking a balance between the safety of the players and the physical danger of the sport (like deciding to stop fights a little earlier in modern boxing). It’s essentially an arbitrary decision about what is crucially important in the game and what isn’t, and I personally believe that NHL hockey will change way too much if the head becomes untouchable. I like rule 48 a lot, and it should be used to suspend the crap out of guys that pull the kind of shit Kunitz just did.

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