Chicago Blackhawks v Phoenix Coyotes

Last night the Phoenix Coyotes took on the Chicago Blackhawks with Raffi Torres in the lineup for the first time since his violent, vicious hit on Marian Hossa in playoffs that saw Torres get suspended for a whopping 23 games. Hossa was badly concussed, and didn’t come close to playing another playoff game. As you can probably guess, the Hawks were not thrilled with Coyotes pest villain.

When he showed up at the rink last night, there’s no doubt he knew. He knew he’d have to fight someone on Chicago, likely someone tough, and likely very early in the game. As a team, you just can’t let a guy who cheap-shotted one of your best players – any of your players, really – cruise around and play his game like nothing happened after that.

I understand that a lot of people think fighting in hockey is stupid. They think the concept of “the code” itself is stupid. But I think even those people get this and can live with it: Torres had to fight somebody.

The thing is, he didn’t truly have to fight somebody. He could’ve ignored the requests, taken the slashes, drawn penalties and driven people insane. It’s an option, but it never ends well for guys, who usually end up finding themselves on the wrong end of a cheap shot.

But anyway, Torres did the right thing. He took the first comer under three minutes into the first period, regardless of who it was, and he didn’t hesitate. He knew it was coming, so he got it out of the way. He took some licks, lost a little oil in the process, but was fine. It was over.

I’ve been in the dressing room with guys who have known they owe a fight to the opponent, and it’s kind of scary to watch. They’re usually dead silent (I watched one dude quietly cover his face in vaseline knowing Jeremy Yablonski was going to be his executioner). As routine as fighting may seem to hockey fans, trading face punches isn’t something to look forward to, and even the heavies get nervous about it.

But Torres (and Mayers, for that matter) knew what had to happen, and he answered the bell. I’m not a fan of the guy, but stick-tap to him for that.

Comments (30)

  1. Good post Bourne, I agree but going back to Bertuzzi/ Moore; if I remember right didn’t Moore fight one of the Canucks earlier in the game?

    • Hey, I changed that sentence, cause this wasn’t meant to be a referendum on the Moore incident. But yeah, he did fight earlier that game.

    • He fought Matt Cooke and kicked his ass. He’d also turned down Brad May earlier in the game. If Moore fights May or loses his fight to Cooke, nothing with Bertuzzi happens. Not justifying what Bertuzzi did or blaming Moore for it, it’s more an example of how “the Code” can end up being not so great.

      • “The Code” wasn’t great there because the Canucks didn’t abide by it. There’s no ‘you have to lose the fight’ provision, Moore did what was expected of him, the fact the Canucks were a bunch of twits about it was the problem. About par for the course in Vancouver though.

        • i was watching that game all those years ago.. and yeah moore straight up handed cookes ass too him.. then avalanche score 2 more goals, make the game 5-0, 7-2 or something insane.. and pow.. yikes

    • Moore did fight… but as I recall, it came after declining challenges from numerous other Canucks both in the original game Naslund was injured and earlier in the infamous game in Vancouver.

      And then when he did finally fight after declining those challenges for the better part of 4 periods… he ended up initiating the fight himself against a smaller opponent off a draw.

      It should also be noted that for all those who point out how much bigger Bertuzzi was than Moore as a reason to decline the fight… Moore was bigger than Cooke by the same margin, and I think we all can agree Cooke isn’t a fighter.

      In short, fighting a smaller, non-fighter after declining numerous challenges from pretty much every other forward except for the Sedins is a far cry from Torres being willing to go with anyone right off his first shift.

      Not that it excuses or justifies what Bertuzzi did with the infamous sucker punch, but Moore initiating a fight with Cooke is a far cry from Torres being willing to take any challenger on.

  2. Love the wink that Mayers throws in the direction of Torres when sitting in the box. I have no qualms about this what so ever.

  3. ” It was over.”

    Mayers after the game when asked it that’s it, is it over : “We’ll see.”

  4. No offence to the writer, but everyone misses the point on “the code”. Here is how a reaction should occur:

    The minute Torres hit Hossa, everyone on the ice for the Black Hawks should have dropped their gloves and it should have been a brawl because one of their teammates just got dangerously injured. Events like this should be spontaneous. Instead, the queers on the ice for Chicago at the time stood around and did nothing. Then, a year later, a guy like Mayers has to go out and fight in Hossa’s “honour”. Here’s the lesson on “the code” no one understands; if your team doesn’t have the stones to stand up and take care of a guy like Torres the second a play happens then they have no business sending someone out to fight a guy a year later. It’s gutless and Chicago is full of gutless players. Even if a guy like Patrick Kane is on the ice at the time…sure he isn’t as tough as Torres but he can use his stick and remind Torres with 8 stictches why people don’t mess with Chicago players.

    You say “the code” was implemented correctly, but all last night really did was take the guys on the ice at the time last year off the hook for being soft.

    • Right. So hit people with your stick and don’t be gay. THE CODE

    • I can’t stand Kane or the Hawks but I completely disagree.

      The Hawks had their hands full with the Yotes late in the game in a tied series after a disappointing first-round exit the year before. You have to keep your cool, and that was the right thing to do. The ref blew it, plain and simple. If the Hawks did something stupid it would show they were flustered.

      Remember when the Sens sent out Carkner to take care of Boyle in Game 2 of the East Quarterfinals last year – after being fed up with cheapshots on Karlsson in Game 1 – that was a worthy 5 minute major as it showed the Sens weren’t afraid of the Rangers or their PP.

      The Hawks should have sent a message in Game 4, is my point.

    • Actually Bollig got tossed from the game and was the only player assessed with a penalty on that whole turn of events. Bollig was trying to get Torres to drop the gloves as soon as it happened but Torres wouldn’t so Bollig jumped him.

    • I think you may have completely misunderstood what “the code” is, and how it differs from spontaneous reaction and total chaos.

    • That’s absolutely ridiculous. That was an NHL playoff game. No place for a “bench clearing brawl”. Get serious.

  5. Anyone who uses “the queers on the ice” fails. Period.

  6. When something like Torres going elbows-high on your teammate happens, you don’t have the benefit of hindsight to decide what (if anything) you should do. I’m sure their first concern was that Hossa was OK and there us nothing soft or gutless about that. As adl said, there was a reaction and like grant said it happened late in the game.

    Just watching it on TV it was a lot to process, so I can’t imagine what it was like for the guys who experienced it firsthand. Players have to focus not just on the puck, but on their man, staying onside, the coach matching lines, etc.; so I’m sure not everyone saw the play as it happened. My point here is that when you see your teammate motionless on the ice, your first instinct isn’t to jump somebody, anybody. After processing things they probably wish they did, though.

  7. So, if Torres did the right thing and he gets a stick tap, what do we think of Duncan Keith not answering for his elbow on Sedin?

    There seems to be some hypocrisy amongst the Blackhawks….

    • Someone seems to be forgetting Sedin’s cheap elbow on Keith during that very same game.

    • Not answering or not being challanged? Keith played the rest of that game and Vancouver spent the rest of the game taking shots at him, but I don’t recall anyone fighting him. Keith played in the Dub, so I’m sure he was aware of what was *supposed* to happen.

      Furthermore, wasn’t he taking a shot at Sedin to pay him back for a non-call hit to the head? I’m not saying that makes it right elbow a guy in the head or play the part of the part of the Blawkhawks Apologist here, just saying…

      • Burrows challenged Keith the same game the elbow occurred, but he turtled on the ice and spent the rest of the game running scared.

        It was pretty clear he would run the whole game last week as well, so it was left to die.

        I think the code is stupid.

        Just wanted to point out the hypocrisy of the Blackhawks, which makes the code even more stupid.

        • For the record, Burrows did not challenge Keith. There was a scrum around the net and Burrows was trying to get at Keith Kirk Maltby-style (trying to tie up with him and talk tough while the linesman and plenty of teammates are around). He managed to pull Keith to the ground while the linesman was trying to break them up, and proceded to get on top of keith, and knee him in the nuts…. Similar to when he and Keith fought in 2009 and Burrows pulled his hair.

  8. This may have been expected under “the code”, but I still don’t see how it’s not an automatic instigator penalty under “the rules”.

    “An instigator of an altercation shall be a player who by his actions or demeanor demonstrates any/some of the following criteria: distance traveled; gloves off first; first punch thrown; menacing attitude or posture; verbal instigation or threats; conduct in retaliation to a prior game (or season) incident; obvious retribution for a previous incident in the game or season.”

    They should maybe add an asterisk to that rule …”unless, you know, he had it coming.” I get why “the code” exists, but it undermines the entire league when stuff like this happens.

    • Agreed, it further underscores that retaliations will always be called. It may be a retaliation for something flagrant, but it is a retaliation none the less.

  9. Ross, don’t even get us started on the instigator rule. The way that rule is worded, there should be an instigator in every single fight that has ever occurred in the NHL under this rule.

  10. the “code” may be a flawed philosophy when spelled out on paper, but as I read all of the posts here written by non-advocates of it, I can only really think one thing.

    Glad you aren’t on my team.

  11. What other professional sport would allow an emotional and biased player to take revenge on an opponent for something that happened almost a year ago This game was talked about on social media sites and by sports journalists for the past few days and everyone knew what was going to happen. No response by the NHL. Doesn’t anyone see a problem with allowing this kind of frontier justice in the NHL and at the same time expecting players to change their behavior and reduce violence in the game?.

    The code varies from player to player and from incident to incident, depending on one’s viewpoint or the circumstances. That’s not a code, that’s an urban legend. If it allows for acts of pure revenge then it does nothing for hockey’s image..

  12. every team needs a jovocop.. jump off the bench baby

  13. Congrats, Torres!! You earn +500 ToughGuy Points. And Im sure you learned your lesson – injure a guy so severely the last 20 years of his life might be compromised, and you might have to take a few hits on the side and back of your helmet!

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