Whether it’s a mother sending her five-year-old to a timeout for painting a beautiful crayon rainbow on the wall, or the high school student getting reprimanded for skipping classes, the purpose of a punishment isn’t just simply to provide a consequence for a negative action. Ideally, a lesson is learned, and the action isn’t repeated.
Sunday night, Canucks forward Raffi Torres took his crayons out once more, and it’ll probably earn him another timeout.
In his first game back after serving a four-game suspension for a hit on Edmonton’s Jordan Eberle during Vancouver’s final game of the regular season, Torres caught Blackhawks defenceman Brent Seabrook with another one-two punch he’s become quite familiar with: a shoulder to the head and a blindside hit.
Torres was given a two-minute minor for interference, and sometime tomorrow morning Colin Campbell will no doubt be using his speed dial, a call that will likely result in further discipline. This hit certainly wasn’t as vicious as others we’ve seen in recent years, and it didn’t result in a major injury.
But what’s often lost in our near nightly debate of questionable hits is the fact that the result of a play isn’t the primary driver of punishment; it’s the action. Similar to the Eberle hit, Torres’ collision with Seabrook is a classic example of the type of hit that Rule 48 seeks to eliminate. Seabrook was struck from the blindside, and his head was the principle point of contact.
However, this might not be quite so black-and-white. Of course it isn’t, because that wouldn’t be any fun.
As Bobby Mac points out, when Rule 48 was created the area behind the net was deemed a “hitting area,” meaning attacking players are given far more latitude on questionable hits. Combine this with Torres’ recent history and fondness for attaching his shoulder to heads, and I think we should oil up the gears on the Wheel of Justice for a long day.
Torres is still very much learning how to contain his rugged, explosive physicality within the confines of safety and the modern, head injury-conscious NHL. After the Eberle suspension, Torres said he wouldn’t change his style. If he wants to continue playing during Vancouver’s playoff run, he might not have a choice.
Lost in the usual head shot debate that will surround your office coffee maker in the morning is the treatment or lack thereof that Seabrook received. The defenceman later left the game briefly after a second hit from Torres, but didn’t miss a shift after being clearly dazed following the initial hit.