April 17, 2012; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Blackhawks right wing Marian Hossa (81) lays on the ice after getting injured against the Phoenix Coyotes during the first period in game three of the 2012 Western Conference quarterfinals at the United Center. Mandatory Credit: Rob Grabowski-US PRESSWIRE

Gary Bettman Reduces Suspension To Raffi Torres. Anyone Ask Hossa His Thoughts?


Today we learned the NHL commissioner Gary Bettman has decided to honor the appeal by Raffi Torres and the NHLPA and reduce the suspension by four games from the original 25 that was handed out by Brendan Shanahan. As you recall Torres who is a mulitple repeat offender was given the suspension during the first round of the playoffs for this hit on Chicago Blackhawks forward Marian Hossa.  Did I mention that Torres is a mulitple repeat offender?

It was reported that both Bettman and Shanahan agreed that the suspension be reduced by four games, as both sides viewed the original 25 to be too harsh.  This seems a bit contradicting to me especially after the following statement was made by Bettman after the hit:

 “This type of on-ice conduct cannot and will not be tolerated in the National Hockey League,” Bettman said in a statement. “We have seen similar behaviour before from Mr. Torres and, particularly given the league’s heightened scrutiny on hits to the head, I believe that a very significant penalty is warranted in this case.

“We hope and expect that the severity of this incident, and the league’s response to it, will help prevent any similar incident from occurring in the future.”

Torres has already served 13 games and has lost over $170,000 because of it.  Torres a multiple repeat offender (did I mention that before), initially wasn’t overly apologetic about the hit, however completely changed his tune after the suspension was handed down.  I didn’t buy his line of BS then, and I don’t buy the line of BS now.  The original suspension was precisely sufficient for the act.  Hossa who was taken off the ice in a stretcher is a vital part of a potent Blackhawks offence, and his loss certainly aided the Coyotes in their elimination of Chicago in the first round.  Like it or not, we will never know how the series would have ended up had Hossa not been injured.  And for that the 25 games to a mulitple repeat offender was warranted.

The league and Bettman must realize that this original ruling made a statment that the league would no longer tolerate such acts, and that player safety was the focal point.  By Bettman reducing the suspension says that going forward, any judgement by Shanhan could be overturned.  A virtual slap in the face to Shanny, as well as Hossa.  It was said that the suspended player has a right via NHLPA guidelines to appeal the suspension.  Last I checked, Hossa happens to be a member of that same NHLPA.  Did anyone ask him what his thoughts on the matter were?  I highly doubt it, and while it’s unrealistic to to do, it’s backwards to have made this change.

Each time that the NHL takes a significant step forward in making progress as a major sport, something like this happens, and it sets itself back.  I have to ask, “Does four games really matter”?  We’re taking about a marginal player who has done this many times before, including a similar incident exactly one year to the date of the Hossa play. 

Players like Torres aren’t needed in the game if this is how they’re going to play.  The NHLPA also needs to realize that safety is first, and when plays like this continue to happen without proper punishment, the creation of a safe environment can never be possible.  This play was no accident.  This play was no “hockey play”.  Watch the video again, and watch it in slow motion.  It’s digusting and appaling that we all have to relive this incident due to this ruling. 

It also shows a lack of solidarity at the top.  What does this mean for Shanahan going forward?  Will Bettman be looking over his shoulder at every ruling now? 

The only way to curtail these kind of plays is to hand out harsh and stiff punishment.  Shanahan did that with the original ruling.  Bettman however just made a joke of it by giving in. 

Anyone who thinks that this was a great hit, or a great play doesn’t get it. Torres left his feet, he leans into Hossa, targets his head, and the hit is late! All elements of a highly suspendable play. By a mulitple repeat offender.  A player is going to get seriously hurt, and or worse, potentially die from something like this.  Is that when the powers at be wake up?  If so, it will be too late.

Thanks for reading.  We welcome your comments and opinions.

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Tags: Brendan Shanahan Gary Bettman Marion Hossa NHLPA Raffi Torres

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