In Game Three of the Vancouver Canucks and Chicago Blackhawks first round series, Canucks' forward Raffi Torres caught an unsuspecting Brent Seabrook with a huge hit behind the Chicago goal. Torres received a two-minute minor penalty on the play for interference. It's tough to see whether or not Seabrook touched the puck, but the interference call would have been made based on Torres arriving on the scene a moment too soon, rather than for the placement or outcome of the hit.
Seabrook popped up fairly quickly, but did not look right on his next shift. Torres hit him once more and Seabrook seemed a bit woozy, and left for the remainder of the period.
Here is Torres' original hit on Seabrook:
The hit looks a bit early as stated above, and is probably worth of a 4-5 game suspension. Or is it? Canucks head coach Alain Vigneault compared it to a hit Canucks' D Dan Hamhuis sustained from Anaheim Ducks' Ryan Getzlaf earlier this year.
Vigneault of course thought that was a penalty at the time, so perhaps his statements this evening is more of an attempt to seek compassion from the NHL for this Torres hit on Seabrook. While it seems cut and dry that this is a blindside hit, there are obviously shades of grey. Since it's really easy to pile on Torres for the hit - especially since he just came off a suspension, let's go over some arguments from the Torres perspective.
1) Seabrook may have had the puck.
Tough to tell, it looks a bit early, but you can argue that Torres could be given the benefit of the doubt SOMEWHAT for poor timing.
2) The hit was delivered to Seabrook's chest mainly. Torres did not lift his elbow or leave his feet.
3) Seabrook should have seen him coming. This argument may raise the ire of some Blackhawks fans, but it is reminiscent of Todd Bertuzzi's hit on Barrett Jackman back in 2003.
Perhaps the interesting point about the Bertuzzi hit is that no one really deemed it to be a questionable hit at the time. Let's not forget Scott Stevens making a career (and ending them - Eric Lindros, Shane Willis, etc) out of blindside hits. The mantra at the time of course was 'Lindros should keep his head up'.
Of course, you can go back to point number one about Seabrook having the puck or not to determine whether you agree. The other argument against Seabrook however is that the hit was not from behind. A mitigating circumstance for Torres may be that Seabrook 'should' have had his head up. Blackhawks / Seabrook fans, consider earlier this season how the league showed restraint against Hawks' Defender Nicklas Hjallmarsson for his hit on Jason Pomminville. The hit on Pomminville was largely viewed by the hockey community as being Pomminville's fault due to his position on the ice and the direction he was facing.
Anyone who plays the game knows that Seabrook had his head looking in the wrong direction, and there is some merit to the argument that just because you're looking the wrong way doesn't mean a hit is automatically worthy of a suspension.
In any event, the referee on the ice deemed Torres' hit to be worthy of a minor penalty for interference. Supplemental discipline is not a given, but of course Bobby Ryan received a suspension thanks to a replay, as the referees missed the play during the game.
The Canucks may not miss Torres if he is suspended, as his two penalties put the Canucks behind the eight ball in the first and second period.
Torres will probably wind up suspended, as there is a lot of chatter about this hit amongst the media, and the Canucks are in control of the series at this point.
Any update on the Torres situation will likely take place Monday, before the Canucks face the Hawks in Game 4 on Tuesday. If Torres his suspended, he will likely be replaced by Cody Hodgson.
What are your thoughts? Should Torres be suspended? Should Seabrook have kept his head up, and does that mitigate Torres' responsibility/guilt?