Raffi Torres has been suspended for 25 games, weakening the Phoenix Coyotes as they seek one more win over the Chicago Blackhawks for their first National Hockey League playoff series victory in 25 years.
Torres, 30, slammed his left shoulder into Marian Hossa’s head midway through the first period of the Coyotes’ 3-2 overtime victory against the Blackhawks in Game 3 on April 17. Hossa sustained a concussion and was removed on a stretcher.
The hit violated interference, charging and illegal checks to the head rules, said Brendan Shanahan, senior vice president of player safety for the NHL. The disciplinary action took into account Hossa’s injuries and Torres’s history as a repeat offender in five previous infractions, he said.
“The ruling is very severe for Raffi and our hockey club,” General Manager Don Maloney said yesterday in a statement. “Raffi plays a hard, physical game yet this contact crossed the line on what is acceptable in our game today.”
If Torres doesn’t complete the suspension by the conclusion of the Coyotes’ playoff run, he will miss all preseason practices and then finish the penalty during next year’s regular season. Since he is a repeat offender, he will forfeit $21,341 in salary for every regular-season game he is deemed ineligible to play.
“My main concern is for the healthy recovery of Marian Hossa, and I hope that he will be able to get back on the ice to compete again soon,” Torres said in a statement issued today. “I sincerely regret injuring Marian. Regarding the severity of the suspension issued, I will take the next few days to decide whether or not to appeal the decision.”
The Coyotes lost 2-1 in overtime to the Blackhawks last night. They have a 3-2 advantage in the best-of-seven series as they prepare for Game 6 tomorrow in Chicago.
“We knew this decision was coming,” coach Dave Tippett said on the league’s website. “It’s not like it snuck up on us.”
The 33-year-old Hossa, who has a team-high 77 points this season, hasn’t returned to the ice since sustaining the injury.