Raffi Torres has been granted two extra days to prepare his case.
But it’s hard to imagine there’s much the Phoenix Coyotes winger can say to avoid being handed a significant suspension after sending Chicago’s Marian Hossa to hospital with a devastating hit on Tuesday night.
A hearing will be held Friday at the NHL’s New York office to determine Torres’ fate — a process required by league rules for disciplinarian Brendan Shanahan to hand out a ban lasting longer than five games.
In the meantime, Torres is suspended indefinitely and will sit out Game 4 of the Coyotes-Blackhawks series on Thursday night.
The incident that landed him in hot water came in the first period of Game 3 after Hossa had passed the puck in the neutral zone. More than half a second later, Torres launched himself into the Blackhawks winger and caught him in the head with the bodycheck.
Hossa was taken from the ice on a stretcher and released from hospital a couple hours later with “encouraging results,” according to the Blackhawks. No specific details of his injury or a timetable for the recovery have been provided.
“Nobody wants to see that,” NHL commissioner Gary Bettman, who was in attendance, told the Chicago Tribune of the incident.
Torres has a history of questionable hits but didn’t think he crossed the line with this one.
“First off, I hope he’s all right,” Torres said after the game. “But as far as the hit goes, I felt like it was a hockey play, just trying to finish my hit out there.”
The biggest thing likely to work against him during the discipline process is his history: Torres was suspended four games in April 2011 for an illegal hit on Edmonton’s Jordan Eberle; he was fined US$2,500 on Dec. 29 for elbowing Colorado’s Jan Hejda; and he was banned two games on Dec. 31 for an illegal hit on Minnesota’s Nate Prosser.
And that doesn’t even include the vicious hit on Blackhawks defenceman Brent Seabrook in last year’s playoffs that controversially went unpunished by the league.
The NHL requested that the discipline hearing for the Hossa incident be held Wednesday, but Torres and the NHL Players’ Association asked for it to be pushed back to allow more time to arrange travel plans. The Coyotes refused comment when asked if Torres planned to personally travel to New York for the hearing.
Phoenix leads the series 2-1 following a 3-2 overtime win in Game 3.