21 April 2011
I have seen 2 clear sides to the Raffi Torres hit on Brent Seabrook that knocked him out of tonightâ€™s game.
Take 1: Raffi Torres targeted an unsuspecting player with a vicious blindside hit to the head
Take 2: Raffi Torres tried to use his physicality, an attribute that has helped him make a career playing hockey, to separate an opposing player from the puck, freeing up his teammate for a scoring opportunity.
Which side is right? Much to the NHLâ€™s nightmare: both sides. But both sides are wrong too.
Thereâ€™s no doubt: Raffi Torres wasnâ€™t trying to injure Brent Seabrook, but he was trying to hit him, and hurt him. But hurt is different than injure. You donâ€™t want to injure him to the point he doesnâ€™t play, you want to hurt him so bad that he plays poorly. Raffi Torres was guilty of the latter, and thatâ€™s a perfectly acceptable move in a sport where physical intimidation is an essential ingredient. Torres also tried to separate Seabrook from the puck so his now uncovered teammate could go to the net for a scoring chance. Saying Torres was being dirty or targeting Seabrook is missing the point. Of course he was, and thatâ€™s part of hockey.
But side one is right too. Raffi Torres knew Seabrook wasnâ€™t looking, and was hitting him as hard as he could. And he hit him high, which at the very least has an increased chance of hitting the head. Iâ€™m sorry, but the Keep your head ut this argument also devolves into a â€śSeabrook should keep his head upâ€ť argument, which is asinine. Hockey players will have to look down to get the puck at some point during the course of a game. Asking a player to keep his head up at all times is akin to asking a writer to never use spell check. Saying â€śKeep your head upâ€ť is an invalid argument, especially here. Torres probably could have laid a clock-cleaninghit in a way that didnâ€™t injure Seabrook (say a hip check). The NHL has said no more blindside hits to the head and, given the restrictions they laid out, this counts.
The days of â€śgetting your bell rungâ€ťare long gone, and theyâ€™re never coming back. Thatâ€™s a good thing, but the results leave the NHL in a precarious identity crisis. We love big hits... LOVE them. But we donâ€™t like devestating injuries. By we I mean, management, TV executives, fans, players and pretty much everyone. I donâ€™t envy the NHLâ€™s position on this, because it may be no-win. Itâ€™s quite possible that wanting big hits without injuries is akin to having our cake and eating it too. If thatâ€™s the case, then the NHL & NHLPA will have to pick a direction to take the game, and it will no doubt alienate some fans.
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