Coyotes’ Torres gets 25-game ban from NHL

By Matt Swartz

The NHL announced Saturday morning that Coyotes forward Raffi Torres has been suspended 25 games for his hit to the head of Blackhawks winger Marian Hossa in Game 3 of their first-round series last Tuesday.

Torres had a face-to-face meeting with league disciplinarian Brendan Shanahan at the NHL’s office in New York on Friday — a meeting originally scheduled for Wednesday but delayed at Torres’ request — and the punishment was announced about 10 hours prior to Game 5 in Phoenix, with the Coyotes having a chance to earn their first series victory.

Should the 25 games not be served by the conclusion of this year’s playoffs — highly unlikely since that would require the Coyotes to play seven games in every possible remaining series through the finals — the remainder of the suspension will carry over to the 2012-13 regular season. Torres also will be prohibited from playing in any preseason games until he has completed his suspension — only regular-season and playoff games will count toward the ban.

Torres already has served one game of the suspension, that being Game 4

of the series in Chicago on Thursday, a game the Coyotes won in

overtime to take a 3-1 series lead. Since Torres’ suspension is without pay, he will forfeit $21,341.46 in salary for each game in which he is ineligible to play.

Shanahan said he took into account that Torres has been disciplined several times in his career; this is Torres’ third suspension for a controversial hit in the past 13 months.

In the video explaining the decision, Shanahan said: “While we acknowledge the circumstances of certain hits may cause a

player’s skates to come off the ice, on this hit, Torres

launches himself into the air before making contact. … The position of

Hossa’s head does not change just prior to or simultaneous with this

hit. The onus therefore is on Torres not to make it the principal

point of contact. By leaping, Torres makes Hossa’s head the principal

point of contact.”

The suspension is tied for the second longest in NHL history, behind only then-Islanders forward Chris Simon’s 30-game ban — which was the seventh suspension of his career — for stomping on the leg of the Penguins’ Jarko Ruutu in 2007. Simon also got a 25-game suspension during the previous playoffs, similar to Torres’ ban, for a slash to the face of the Rangers’ Ryan Hollweg. Flyers forward Jesse Boulerice received a 25-game suspension in 2007 for a crosscheck to the face of the Canucks’ Ryan Kesler.

The Coyotes do not plan to appeal the suspension, as general manager Don Maloney issued a statement saying that the team “accepts the NHL’s decision and will focus on our game tonight.”

Torres, however, left his options open in a statement released later Saturday, saying he “will take the next few days to decide whether or not to appeal the decision.”

He added, “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. I sincerely regret injuring Marian.”

Torres, who typically plays on the Coyotes’ third line, had one goal and one assist in the team’s first three playoff games while averaging just over 19 minutes of ice time. During the regular season, the 30-year-old veteran had 15 goals and 11 assists.