San Jose Sharks forward Raffi Torres will not appeal the suspension he received from the NHL for his hit on Jarret Stoll in Game 1 of the Western Conference Semifinals against the Los Angeles Kings.
A statement issued by Sharks general manager Doug Wilson on Friday said, "Although it's unfortunate that Jarret was injured on the play, we feel this decision is grossly unfair to Raffi, his teammates and our fans. However, Raffi does not want to be a distraction to his teammates and has decided not to appeal this suspension and we respect that decision."
Torres was suspended for the remainder of the second-round series by the NHL for his hit on Stoll in the opener Tuesday. Stoll did not play in Game 2, and there's no word if or when he'll return.
Los Angeles leads the best-of-7 series 2-0 with Game 3 on Saturday in San Jose (9 p.m. ET, NBCSN, RDS, TSN).
Though Wilson said Torres won't appeal, and the team "fully supports the NHL in its efforts to remove illegal and dangerous hits from the game," the GM also said the Sharks strongly disagree with the suspension.
"Upon review of the incident, it is abundantly clear that this was a clean hockey hit," Wilson said in his statement. "As noted by the NHL, Raffi's initial point of contact was a shoulder-to-shoulder hit on an opponent who was playing the puck. He did not leave his feet or elevate, he kept his shoulder tucked and elbow down at his side, and he was gliding -- not skating or charging.
"As stated in the NHL's Player Safety video, Rule 48.1 says, 'A hit resulting in contact with an opponent's head where the head is targeted and the principal point of contact is not permitted.' Thus, with the use of the word 'and,' this rule clearly states that two elements must occur in order to violate the rule. Raffi absolutely did not target his opponent's head on the play. The call on the ice specifically acknowledged that the head was not targeted and nowhere in the NHL's ruling does it insinuate or suggest that the opponent's head was targeted."
"Furthermore, the rule goes on to say: 'However, in determining whether such a hit should have been permitted, the circumstances of the hit, including whether the opponent put himself in a vulnerable position immediately prior to or simultaneously with the hit or the head contact on an otherwise legal body check was avoidable, can be considered.'"
Torres was acquired by the Sharks from the Phoenix Coyotes at the NHL Trade Deadline. Torres was suspended for 25 games last spring for an illegal hit on Marian Hossa during Phoenix's first-round series against the Chicago Blackhawks. Torres appealed that decision and had his suspension reduced to 21 games, a penalty that carried into this season.
Wilson said the Sharks feel Torres' past influenced this decision to suspend him.
"As evidenced in the video, just prior to Torres making contact with the opposing player, that player altered his posture to play a bouncing puck with his hand, placing himself in a vulnerable position," Wilson said.
"Comparing the facts of this incident against the actual wording of Rule 48.1, it appears that the NHL has not only made an inappropriate application of this rule but is trying to make an example out of a player who is being judged on past events, one who has changed his game dramatically this season and taken only six minor penalties in 39 games."
Author: NHL.com Staff
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