On Saturday the NHL announced a 25-game suspension for Phoenix forward Raffi Torres for his hit to the head of Chicago’s Marian Hossa on April 17.
In terms of games banned, it is tied with two others as the third-longest suspension in NHL history and it is the longest suspension handed down by Brendan Shanahan, the NHL’s vice president of player safety.
“I think Brendan’s sending a message there,” veteran Capitals winger Mike Knuble said of the suspension. “I don’t know all the circumstances. They’re talking about multiple offenses on one hit and the fact that he was a second, third-time violator, whatever they call it. But that certainly makes a statement.”
In a first round highlighted by suspensions and potentially dangerous hits, many in the hockey world will debate the various intricacies of the Torres suspension. Whether players across the league will view it as a message to them, as Knuble alluded, there’s little question this is intended as a severe deterrent to Torres.
A repeat offender, Torres has received fines or suspensions five previous times in his career for similar incidents.
Capitals forward Jay Beagle said the message from the NHL regarding hits to the head has been clear all season, adding that players must keep it in mind as physical play elevates in the postseason.
“Obviously they’ve been cracking down all year on hits and headshots and stuff like that,” Beagle said. “With playoffs it gets ramped up a little bit more in the intensity. You’ve just got to go out and play your game. No hits to the head and just play a physical game — but a smart game.”
Shanahan’s video explanation of the suspension is below.