Vancouver’s Raffi Torres will not be punished for leveling Chicago’s Brent Seabrook behind the Blackhawks’ net during Sunday’s Game 3 after all. In one of the more polarizing hits of 2010-11, Torres clobbered an unsuspecting Seabrook with a hit that had many calling for a lengthy ban and another set of observers declaring it a true ‘hockey play’.

Torres took the opportunity to smash into Seabrook knowing full well that the Blackhawks defenceman had no idea he was coming. Coming off of a suspension that cost him two regular season games and the first two games of this series, it probably wasn’t the best decision Torres could have made – but as Kurtenblogger Mike Halford points out: “you can’t suspend someone for being stupid if he’s being stupid legally”.

Before news came down that Torres would not face further discipline, Puck Daddy’s Greg Wyshynski offered this take on the incident – which I tend to agree with:

The only debate in that regard is whether a check is still a ‘hockey play’ in today’s NHL, because what Torres did on a north/south hit right there made the Scott Stevens fan in me grin and point to the opponents bench to ask “who’s next?”

For this hit, Torres received two minutes for interference, because neither player had possession of the puck. Not elbowing nor roughing nor a headshot, despite Torres reacting like a guy on parole who just got caught in the passenger’s seat of a stolen car.

…I know things like Rule 48 have taken the responsibly away from the player being hit, and I know there are always going to be arguments about players in a “prone” position. But hits that catch an opponent off-guard [are] going to happen, and they’re not always illegal to the point of suspension.

So it’s two minutes for Torres, and nothing more. This is an instance where I find myself agreeing with the NHL on the call. There’s little doubt that this ruling will upset many hockey fans, and most certainly Joel Quenneville and his Chicago Blackhawks – but after multiple viewings I can’t honestly say I have a problem with the hit under the guidelines of Rule 48.

Do you agree with the league’s ruling on Torres?