Wed Apr 06 12:10am EDT
Whether or not you believe this hit by Raffi Torres(notes) of the Vancouver Canucks on Edmonton's Jordan Eberle(notes) is a hockey play, it's a hit that's no longer welcome in today's NHL -- a fact, one imagines, that will be reinforced when the League's Wheel of Discipline gets spinning for Torres.
The hit, at 13:05 of the third period on Tuesday night, resulted in Torres getting 5 minutes for elbowing, 5 for fighting and a game misconduct; Ryan O'Marra(notes) of the Oilers earned 5 for fighting.
Yes, Eberle puts himself on a prone position by getting low and reaching for the puck; according the Dan Murphy of Sportsnet, "Torres felt Eberle leaned down at the last second reaching for puck which turned shoulder to shoulder into shoulder to head."
Will that matter to the NHL? Probably not. It was a blindside hit, rather than a north/south hit, where the head was the principle point of contact. Thanks to Rule 48, the responsibility falls to the hitter in these instances.
If you look at the recent suspensions for elbows to the head--namely Dany Heatley(notes) on Steve Ott(notes) and Matt Cooke(notes) on Ryan McDonaugh--they targeted the head. Both players stuck their elbows out to make contact with the head of the opposing player.
Torres intended to make a shoulder to shoulder hit and had his elbow tucked until the follow through after the hit was made.
Sportsnet West reporter Gene Principe reported on Twitter that Jordan Eberle had a mark on his left cheek, but otherwise was no worse for wear from that hit. Injuries typically are weighed heavily in determining whether a player gets suspended or not.
No suspension should be forthcoming.
Do you agree? And if not, will playoff games enter into the equation?