The Raffi Torres Hit on Marian Hossa
I have watched thousands upon thousands of hockey games in my life and I don’t think I have ever been as disturbed by a play as I was last night. I was at the game and following the puck so I only caught a glimpse of the hit out of the corner of my eye. Players get injured all the time, but this was different. I have never seen the team doctor jump on to the ice while the puck was still in play to attend to a player. The reaction of the Blackhawks’ medical team made my stomach flip. The bench had the best look at it, and professionals felt compelled to leap on to the ice before the whistle had blown. Sounds like Hossa will eventually make a full recovery, but this could very well be a career altering hit. I hope that Hossa is able to eventually come back and play and live the life he was living before last night. Hossa is one of the good guys. He is in many ways the perfect hockey player. He is incredibly talented, hard working, strong, and responsible. It’s sickening that a dirty player like Torres has threatened Hossa’s career.
Torres and the Coyotes trying to defend this play as a “hockey hit” is repugnant. “As far as the hit goes, I just felt like it was a hockey play, just trying to finish my hit out there,” said Torres. That isn’t a hockey hit. The puck was gone, the player was vulnerable, Torres left his feet, and targeted Hossa’s head. To make matters worse Jeremy Roenick said “ten years ago that is a good hit“. That just isn’t true. That type of hit has never had a place in the game. This type of hit isn’t new to the NHL landscape, but they are different in today’s game. The impacts are much more violent. Players are bigger, stronger, faster, and the game itself is played faster due to some of the rule changes. It’s a better game than ever, but it is also a more dangerous game. Players have always gotten hurt in hockey, it’s part of playing the game. What we can’t have is players intentionally injuring their opponents and jeopardizing careers. There is such a thing as a “hockey hit”, but Torres doesn’t know what that is. The Dustin Brown hit on Sedin is a perfect example of how to play good hard, clean hockey.
Brown is a guy who plays hard, but plays with respect for rules both written and unwritten. This play developed similarly to the Torres-Hossa play. It was in the neutral zone, the puck had been played. That’s where the similarities end though. Brown slows up so he doesn’t charge Sedin, he stays on his feet, lowers his shoulder, makes contact with Sedin’s chest, and even follows through low with his hands. That is perfect hockey. That is respectful hockey. That IS hockey. What Torres did was completely reckless. Torres’s hit has no place in the game. (The Torres hit was also later, Brown’s was on time).
When Torres declined to fight Bollig was forced to jump Torres. Bollig was appropriately given an instigator penalty for attempting to fight, but Torres escaped without any type of punishment. Leaving the Blackhawks without their best player and killing a penalty. The Blackhawks were unable to overcome the aftermath of Torres’s hit on this night. However, even without Hossa, the Blackhawks are still the more talented team. They need to continue to play their brand of hockey which relies on speed and puck possession. If the Blackhawks are able to move forward and avoid being sucked into a series where penalties are high and the pace is slow, then they could still advance.
Game 4 tomorrow at the United Center.
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