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San Jose Sharks forward Raffi Torres will be forced to sit out half the regular season after getting handed a 41-game suspension by the NHL on Monday. The lengthy ban comes following a dirty hit to the head delivered in a preseason game last weekend and is the league’s longest suspension since Marty McSorley was ultimately handed a full-season ban back in 2000 after slashing Donald Brashear in the head.
On Saturday night in Anaheim, Torres delivered a high, late hit to the head of Ducks forward Jakob Silfverberg, who had already dished the puck to a teammate while trying to make a play in the offensive zone. Torres was ejected for the hit. Thankfully, Silfverberg, who left the game after being visibly shaken up, would ultimately be fine.
Torres has earned himself a reputation as being one of the league’s dirtiest players and – even though he’s somehow not technically considered a “repeat offender” by league standards – he’s been warned, fined or suspended nine times for similar infractions throughout his career. With the league attempting to crack down and levy more severe sanctions on dirty hits, Torres becomes the first player in quite some time to feel the iron fist of the league’s disciplinary department.
With the NHL regular season’s opening puck drop on the horizon, this sends a clear message to the rest of the league that these kinds of plays (especially from players with Torres’ rap sheet) will no longer be tolerated, and good on them for that.
(Note: Los Angeles Kings defenseman was suspended indefinitely last year for a domestic violence incident and would go on to miss the season’s final 76 games because of it, but he was never banned a definitive quantity of games by the league.)