By Tim Arrick
Typically in the playoffs, fighting tends to go away and I thought with the crackdown this season in the NHL on blows to the head that trend might continue. The NHL in its infinite wisdom however decided otherwise.
It all started with the opening game of the Detroit Red Wings/ Nashville Predators series. At the end of game 1 in the series, Shea Weber of Nashville hit Henrik Zetterberg of Detroit and then for good measure grabbed him and slammed his head into the glass again. The response of the NHL’s Chief Disciplinarian was essentially, well since Zetterberg really wasn’t hurt, there is not need to suspend Weber. With that, Weber walked away with the Collective Bargaining Agreement’s maximum fine of $2,500 or the equivalent of $23 for someone earning $70,000 per year.
The message that was clearly sent by the NHL that day was ‘We are concerned about the safety of our players as long as they get hurt and show visible signs of injury. If you don’t hurt them, then do whatever you want.” Obviously the problem here is that some players are only seeing the “do whatever you want” part of that statement and people are getting hurt.
The culmination of this latest philosophy to increase ratings came at the 8:18 mark in Tuesday nights Chicago Blackhawks/ Phoenix Coyotes game. Blackhawk Marion Hossa had just passed the puck off when the Coyotes’ Raffi Torres left his feet and lead with what appears to be his shoulder into Hossa’s head. Hossa lay on the ice for about 5 minutes before being carried off on a stretcher and taken to the hospital.
After the game Torres commented on his brutal hit on Hossa, “First off, I hope he’s all right. But as far as the hit goes, I felt like it was a hockey play. I was just trying to finish my hit out there, and, as I said, I hope he’s all right.”
The problem is that there are only a few people who think that was a clean hit, Torres and the officials on the ice who did not call a penalty.
Even the leagues own players such as Nashville’s Mike Fisher call it “embarrassing”, and say the league needs to “clamp down’’. “To me that’s not hockey. I don’t like to see it,” Fisher said.
I’m sure there will be a suspension for this one. The NHL has made some suspensions after the Zetterberg bashing in an attempt to quell the violence but it looks like some of the people on the ice haven’t heard that message. This time Brendan Shanahan needs to send the message loud and clear by suspending Torres for the remainder of the playoff because if the message doesn’t get though soon, someone could easily die.
Addendum: The NHL has just suspended Raffi Torres indefinitely for his hit on Marion Hossa in Tuesday night’s game.