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Fraser: Should Torres be suspended for his hit on Stoll?

Kerry Fraser
5/15/2013 12:45:01 PM
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Got a question on rule clarification, comments on rule enforcements or some memorable NHL stories? Kerry wants to answer your emails at cmonref@tsn.ca!

Kerry, what did you think of the hit that Raffi Torres laid out on Jarret Stoll on Tuesday night?

I mean, he popped Stoll hard on that hit, but I can't tell if Torres just got his shoulder or in the head. Torres got two for charging, but could there be more from the league?

Max Martin, Toronto

Max:

I must first acknowledge that Raffi Torres has done an excellent job this season in transforming his game in an effort to play within the rules; not unlike the way Matt Cooke did following his lengthy suspension. On this play however, it is my opinion that the angle of approach that Raffi Torres took ahead/to the front of Jarret Stoll's center body mass in setting up to make the hit resulted in an illegal check to the head.

Raffi Torres was closing in on Jarret Stoll in anticipation of making an open-ice hit but in doing so, Torres makes Stoll's head the principle point of contact causing injury.

While the circumstance surrounding every play is unique there can be common threads and similarities that exist for the purpose of determining suspensions. As I viewed this play I noticed distinct similarities from the criteria Brendan Shanahan used in his explanation to suspend Eric Gryba for two games.  I provide quotes from that decision while inserting player name changes to appropriately reflect this current incident.

"As the illegal check to head penalty (rule 48) states: 'A hit resulting in contact with an opponent's head where the head is targeted and the principal point of contact is not permitted.'

"There appears to be no malicious intent by Torres on the play. Stoll is eligible to be checked on the play and Torres does not extend an elbow or launch into the head of Stoll. However, Torres route is not correct and he does not make enough of a full body check for this hit not to qualify as an illegal check to the head. In attempting this check Torres does not hit squarely enough through the body. Stoll's head is the principle point of contact and the subsequent contact to Stoll's right shoulder is secondary.

"It is important to note that while receiving a pass or carrying a puck anywhere on the ice a hockey player bears some responsibility to be aware of an impending check, however since the inception of the current illegal check to the head penalty, no player should expect that his head will be made the principle point of contact whether intentionally or as it appears on this play, recklessly...

"Taking into account the significant contact to the head as well as the fact that Torres does not hit Stoll through the body he does not succeed with his attempt to make a legal check."
 
 - In summary, in my opinion this was an illegal check to the head.
 
 - Jarrett Stoll was ultimately injured as a result of this hit (Did not return for 3'rd period).
 
 - Raffi Torres has been suspended during his career.
 
Aside from the seriousness of the injury that Lars Eller sustained and Jarrett Stoll fortunately did not, the common threads used to describe the play and the decision rendered were just too obvious and eloquently stated by Brendan Shanahan for me to ignore.

Kerry Fraser

Kerry Fraser


Kerry Fraser is an analyst for the NHL on TSN and That's Hockey 2Nite on TSN2. As one of the league's most recognizable senior referees, he's worked 1,904 NHL regular season games and 261 playoff games during his 37-year career.


Got a question on rule clarification, comments on rule enforcements or some memorable NHL stories? Kerry wants to answer your emails at cmonref@tsn.ca!


You can also follow Kerry Fraser on Twitter at @kfraserthecall!

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