GLENDALE, Ariz. - A blindside hit, a history of violence, and a league-wide crackdown on rough play earned Phoenix Coyotes forward Raffi Torres one of the longest suspensions in NHL history.
Torres was suspended 25 games by the league Saturday and will miss the rest of the playoffs for a late hit that resulted in Chicago’s Marian Hossa being taken off the ice on a stretcher.
Torres is the ninth player to be suspended during what’s been an out-for-blood playoffs so far.
“I think it’s a precedent,’’ Chicago center Brendan Morrison said Saturday. “We’ve been talking about it for so long over the course of the last couple of years and there has been more suspensions, but the message isn’t getting through to guys. I don’t know how it can’t get through after this.’’
Torres’s suspension is the longest for an on-ice offense since Islanders forward Chris Simon was banned 30 games for stomping on the ankle of Pittsburgh’s Jarkko Ruutu in December 2007.
It also matches the second-longest suspension: Simon also was suspended 25 games for his two-handed stick attack to the face of Rangers forward Ryan Hollweg in 2007 and so was Philadelphia’s Jesse Boulerice for cross-checking Vancouver center Ryan Kesler in the face in 2007.
Torres issued a statement Saturday through the NHL Players’ Association.
“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 said. “Regarding the severity of the suspension issued, I will take the next few days to decide whether or not to appeal the decision.’’
If the 25 games of his suspension aren’t exhausted during the playoffs - the Coyotes would need to play four straight seven-game series to complete the suspension - the ban carries over into the next regular season. As a repeat offender, Torres would forfeit $21,341 in salary for every regular-season game he sits out.
“The ruling is very severe for Raffi and our hockey club,’’ Coyotes general manager Don Maloney said in a statement. “Raffi plays a hard, physical game yet this contact crossed the line on what is acceptable in our game today.’’
Torres wasn’t penalized when he left his feet to hit an unsuspecting Hossa during Game 3 Tuesday in Chicago. Hossa hasn’t played again.
Shanahan said in a statement that Torres’s hit violated three rules: interference, charging, and illegal check to the head. In determining the length of the suspension, Shanahan noted that Torres caused severe injury and his discipline history consists of acts similar to the hit on Hossa.