McKenzie: Breaking down the hit by Canucks forward Torres

Bob McKenzie
4/18/2011 1:27:15 AM
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My first reaction to the Raffi Torres' hit was that it was a classic case of Rule 48. A blindside hit, principal point of contact to head or targeted head shot.

That's my view, but when NHL general managers created Rule 48 a year ago March, they allowed the area behind the net to be a "hitting area" and players need to be more aware than, say, in the neutral zone.

In March of 2010, a DVD went to players, coaches, and general managers saying exactly that, that there was far more latitude given on hits behind the net on unsuspecting players. In other words, as one NHL GM told me tonight, a hit behind the net is viewed more like a north-south hit than an east-west neutral zone hit.

The other big issue is principal point of contact. Was it a straight-on body check where the shoulder also struck head or a "head shot"? Remember, in the NHL, there are circumstances where a shoulder hitting an unsuspecting or vulnerable player in the head is entirely legal.

So what happens now?

The NHL will review it overnight and, in my opinion, one of two things will happen Monday.

One, Torres (being a repeat offender), gets a long suspension.

Two, he goes free, no suspension at all.

My prediction, based on the DVD from March 2010 and "hitting area" rationale, is I don't believe he'll be suspended.

My opinion, based on Torres' penchant for hitting people in head, is he probably should be suspended.

But I will be surprised if is.

All I know for certain, after listening to the wide variety of opinions on this hit from all over the hockey world, is that the issue of hits to the head and what's legal versus illegal has never been more complex than it is now. 

Bob McKenzie


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