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The Torres rule?

According to the New York Post’s Larry Brooks, NHL disciplinarian Colin Campbell’s insistence that the NHL does not wish to ban shoulder-to-head hits on unsuspecting defensemen in the “valley of death” beside or behind the net—in specifically referencing Raffi Torres’s long run on Brent Seabrook which went unpunished, to the consternation and rejuvenation of the Chicago Blackhawks—has raised an eyebrow or two among the NHLPA members who had assumed that forwards who charge defensemen would not be exempted from the blind-side hitting rule for the sake of Campbell’s insistence that players who don’t keep their heads up are still Marc Savard-hit-legal because the NHL chose not to ask referees to enforce its now largely ignored rules regarding charging, boarding and, as Brooks points out, an existing rule which should, in theory, have resulted in a penalty to what shouldn’t be a legal hit, ever:

The PA intends to use its representation on the increasingly irrelevant competition committee to attempt to craft a rule this summer that would explicitly outlaw the Torres’ hit that concussed the Blackhawks’ first-pair defensemen.

Really, though, what’s the point when the man in charge (with, it must be stressed, the full support of his employers on Sixth Avenue) spends his time searching for loopholes in the rulebook to enable predators rather than applying Rule 21.1 to protect the vast majority of players who are — now by definition — targets in the crosshairs.

This is Rule 21.1: “A match penalty shall be imposed on any player who deliberately attempts to injure or who deliberately injures another player in any manner.”

Unless there is a secret amendment to 21.1 that reads, “Except in the area behind the net and except when the play in question is a shoulder to the head of a player with his head down about the play the puck,” there is no explanation, none at all, that would explain Campbell and the league’s failure to apply the statute against Torres.

When a player targets an opponent’s head, he is deliberately attempting to injure him. That’s it. There’s no wiggle room, no other explanation, no room for debate.

This is Matt Cooke-Marc Savard all over again. This is Campbell acting as an attorney for legal aid, combing the statutes for technicalities to free a client charged with a felony, rather than the NHL executive charged with enforcing discipline in the game. Lost in technicalities, Campbell misses the larger picture. It is the league’s responsibility to protect the greater good, not serial headhunters like Torres, who had just returned from a suspension for a headshot.

Continued with painfully obvious talk about the Flyers’ goaltending issues.

And talk about disturbing—even the Detroit Free Press’s Evil Drew Sharp thinks that Colin Campbell’s lost touch. Expert-to-expert talk there.

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Comments

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Oh for Christ sakes. Larry Brooks is, and always will be, an idiot. Torts had that puts sussed out long ago.

Predatory?  There was nothing wrong with the Torres hit. Keep you head up has always been a credo, and if they take it out, they take out hitting.

And there is no “valley of death” Brooksie (Did you get beat up as a kid ?).  All the rule said is that the hitting behind the net was specifically shown in the DVD as something that is at the essnse of hitting.

Quit contributing to this fallacy Malik. Torres hit a gut in the chest, elbow down, and did not ever jump, or anything else that is wrong with hitting today.

If the guy was not looking back for 2-3 seconds ( a LIFETIME in hockey terms ), and had his head so far down it got hit as well, that has more to do with two guys of comparable sizes hitting together. He keeps his head up, he gets hit in the chest. He stops in the corner, he gets the puck. He had many options, he tried the stupidest one.

Besides. its not the free hitting zone that seems to be assumed here and in Brooksie’s article.  Downie jumped into someone and got a game. 

Next thing you guys will want white skates and toe picks.

Posted by vancitydan on 04/24/11 at 08:05 AM ET

eternal_fields's avatar

Wow, Dan, I won’t even get it into with you over the Torres hit since you are such a partisan that you will bend over backwards to find a way to excuse your boy.

I’ll just leave you with this from a Steve Simmons story. Happy Easter, Danny.

If somehow the Vancouver Canucks don’t recover, can’t recover, this will go down as one of the greatest choke jobs, anywhere, anytime. And for those counting, if Roberto Luongo fails to find his game the rest of the series, this will make the third consecutive playoff season in which he’s been found wanting.

Posted by eternal_fields on 04/24/11 at 09:38 AM ET

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Raffe Torres has a long history of being a player whose main ability is to deliver sneak attacks with the intent to injure an opposing player.  He has no discernible hockey skills.  This type of “player” needs to be banned from the game.  Or even better, he needs to be given Gordie Howe justice. 

Some day I will list the “players” who should be thrown out of the game, not just the NHL.

Doc

Posted by DocF from Reidsville, NC on 04/24/11 at 09:57 AM ET

J.J. from Kansas's avatar

Damn, I hate agreeing with Larry Brooks.  It always makes me feel so dirty.

This was not shoulder-to-shoulder, not even the cavemen’s hero Colin Campbell said that (he outright said it was a head shot).

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 04/24/11 at 11:51 AM ET

eternal_fields's avatar

Hey again JJ . . .  so it takes the absolutely loathsome Canucks to bring together Wings and Hawks fans, huh?

Posted by eternal_fields on 04/24/11 at 01:46 PM ET

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Charging shall mean the actions of a player who, as a result of distance traveled, shall violently check an opponent in any manner. A “charge” may be the result of a check into the boards, into the goal frame or in open ice.”
I understand there is a lot of leeway in calling this rule…as in practically never.  The most difficult aspect is the part about distance traveled.  I enjoy ‘clean’ hockey hits when players are relatively close to each other.  The clowns who start from a long distance away and try to separate a player from reality I feel should be called for charging. 

There are many complaints by some abut the ‘apparent’ attempt to take hitting out of the NHL.  I believe, if you check the statistics, there are more hits now in a season than before the lockout.  Although, to be fair, a big increase is probably because of the, at times, increased enforcement of interference.

Posted by bobinnocal from Chico, CA on 04/24/11 at 02:04 PM ET

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This is Matt Cooke-Marc Savard all over again.

It’s worse than that. It’s Mike Richards on David Booth. It’s the moment the NHL declared an obviously injurious play legal and opened the floodgates to more of them. After a (relatively) quiet two years on the dangerous behavior front (for him) Steve Downie threw basically the same hit the next night. That he was suspended for missing the head and Torres was not suspended for connecting has to have the players’ completely confused.

Posted by steviesteve on 04/24/11 at 02:10 PM ET

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Hey again JJ . . .  so it takes the absolutely loathsome Canucks to bring together Wings and Hawks fans, huh?

Posted by eternal_fields on 04/24/11 at 12:46 PM ET

Maybe the old proverb is true -  “the enemy of my enemy is my friend”

Posted by mc keeper on 04/24/11 at 02:14 PM ET

eternal_fields's avatar

The clowns who start from a long distance away and try to separate a player from reality I feel should be called for charging. 

No doubt. No argument from me on this.

But the aspect of this hit that many miss is this: Seabrook had not played/touched the puck.

So on top of everything else, it was an extreme case of interference.

And it was not a hockey play like Kronwall/Havlat of the playoffs a few years back, which was borderline.

Posted by eternal_fields on 04/24/11 at 02:30 PM ET

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“So on top of everything else, it was an extreme case of interference.
56.4 Major Penalty - The Referee, at his discretion, may assess a major penalty, based on the degree of violence, to a player guilty of interfering with an opponent (see 56.5).
And in an ‘extreme’ case of violence such as the Torre hit I feel it should have warranted a major penalty.  Rule 56.4 seems pretty straightforward to me.

Posted by bobinnocal from Chico, CA on 04/24/11 at 02:53 PM ET

eternal_fields's avatar

Next thing you guys will want white skates and toe picks.

This is the most offensive thing about the initial comment made by a rather dim Canucks fan. If you’re against what happened to Seabrook, you are somehow for turning hockey into figure skating.

I say bullshit to that. And I am happy to see there are at least some folks here who agree with me.

Posted by eternal_fields on 04/24/11 at 03:58 PM ET

redxblack's avatar

By the logic of the “hit zone” BS, the Kostopolus hit on Disco Stu would be legal. Campbell needs to go.

Posted by redxblack from Akron Ohio on 04/24/11 at 04:22 PM ET

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Sounds like “eternal fields” is getting a bit emotional on this one.  Take a deep breath and think of your “happy place”

Here is the problem and challenge. If you make that hit illegal, then consider how Torres should have played the situation:
1.)  Let up and allow Seabrook to make the breakout pass
2.)  Let up and do a stick check (.i.e. giving Seabrook more time)
3.)  Let up and only “bump” Seabrook, which again would allow Seabrook to continue the play because his position protected the puck.

It is very difficult because if you make that play illegal, then players will deliberately put themselves in the “Seabrook pose” to either draw a penalty deliberatly or buy themselves time to make the breakout pass.

Most of the commentators here just rant without considering the difficulty of the situation.  To disallow the hit is the start of a very slippery slope towards the complete elimination of body checking. 

And before you rag on the Vancouver bias, remember that Seabrook is actually one of our own.

I imagine these comments will be greeted by the usual baying hounds that do not actually suggest an alternative.

Posted by MattinSurrey on 04/24/11 at 04:33 PM ET

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I imagine these comments will be greeted by the usual baying hounds that do not actually suggest an alternative.

What about option 4.  Make an attempt to play the puck himself and prevent the outlet pass by stopping his ‘charge’ as he hit him, instead of following through so forcefully.  From everything I could see from the play that option was available to him.  This option is selected all the time and a big ‘clean’ hit still occurs.

Posted by bobinnocal from Chico, CA on 04/24/11 at 05:36 PM ET

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1.)  Let up and allow Seabrook to make the breakout pass
2.)  Let up and do a stick check (.i.e. giving Seabrook more time)
3.)  Let up and only “bump” Seabrook, which again would allow Seabrook to continue the play because his position protected the puck.

Sorry, this isn’t Seabrook turning his back and daring Torres to board him or lose the battle. Torres had two seconds to decide where to put his shoulder and picked Seabrook’s jaw.

Torres had numerous other option, including but not limited to.

1) Crush him in the left shoulder instead of the head. Seabrook was nearly stationary at the time of the hit. It’s easy to pick your spot on a stationary/gliding target, unlike, say, a guy doing crossovers at high speed.
2) Go in low with his hip or back, instead of high, aiming at the boards in front of Seabrook instead of Seabrook, but bumping him backwards at the same time. Seabrook is completely cut off from the puck due to the position of their respective bodies after contact. Rob Blake and Ray Bourque used to do this all the time. Nick Lidstrom, Paul Martin and Zdeno Chara all do this now. Best part about this play is not only does he prevent Seabrook from getting the puck, he comes out with clean possession and time. If Seabrook grabs him for any reason, Torres draws a penalty as well.

Posted by steviesteve on 04/24/11 at 05:40 PM ET

eternal_fields's avatar

What about option 4.  Make an attempt to play the puck himself

Yeah, MattinSurrey, what about PLAYING THE PUCK?</b>

Believe me, dude, I am most definitely in my “happy place.”

The Hawks have risen from the dead, and your Canucks have been exposed for all the league to see: an undisciplined squad that is weak psychologically with a marquee goalie who is getting smoked - again and again and again - up high.

I’m heading to the United Center in about one hour for the next chapter in this saga. Hope you are watching from your “happy place.”

Posted by eternal_fields on 04/24/11 at 05:54 PM ET

J.J. from Kansas's avatar

I imagine these comments will be greeted by the usual baying hounds that do not actually suggest an alternative.

What about option 4.  Make an attempt to play the puck himself and prevent the outlet pass by stopping his ‘charge’ as he hit him, instead of following through so forcefully.  From everything I could see from the play that option was available to him.  This option is selected all the time and a big ‘clean’ hit still occurs.

Posted by bobinnocal from Chico, CA on 04/24/11 at 04:36 PM ET

Sorry, Matt, but you put yourself in nice position to be bitch-slapped like this and like steviesteve followed up with.  Maybe you should have kept your head up and thought for yourself the other alternatives Raffi Torres had to prevent himself from laying a cheap shot while also staying off the “anti-hitting slippery slope” that so many people are worried about.

Nobody wants hitting eliminated from the game.  There are a whole lot of reasonable hockey fans who want head-hunting eliminated.  It’s not a black-and-white issue.

To pretend that Torres had zero legal alternative to laying a shoulder into a guy’s head from a dangerous angle is an oversimplification.

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 04/24/11 at 06:35 PM ET

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The Malik Report is a destination for all things Red Wings-related. I offer biased, perhaps unprofessional-at-times and verbose coverage of my favorite team, their prospects and developmental affiliates. I've joined the Kukla's Korner family with five years of blogging under my belt, and I hope you'll find almost everything you need to follow your Red Wings at a place where all opinions are created equal and we're all friends, talking about hockey and the team we love to follow.