The National Hockey League brought the hammer down on Vancouver Canucks winger Raffi Torres Thursday, serving him with a four-game suspension for his hit on Edmonton Oilers winger Jordan Eberle earlier this week.
Torres will miss Vancouver's final two regular-season games, and the first two games of the Stanley Cup playoffs next week, for delivering a blow to Eberle's head in Tuesday's 2-0 Oilers victory.
"I strongly disagree with it, but we'll move on here and get ready for the playoffs," Canucks general manager Mike Gillis said. "I thought it was a hockey play."
Torres is the second NHL player suspended for the playoffs. Pittsburgh Penguins winger Matt Cooke will also miss postseason games because of an NHL disciplinary measure.
Moments before word of the suspension broke, Canucks head coach Alain Vigneault held his daily press conference and predicted that Torres would not be suspended because the club had yet to hear anything from the NHL.
"Logic would say that they would've told us before," Vigneault said. "Wouldn't that have been the logical thing to do if he was going to be suspended? That's why I'm assuming he's not."
The Canucks will play with 11 forwards Thursday against the Minnesota Wild, in their home finale of the 2010-11 season.
Torres said he spent about 8-10 minutes on the telephone Thursday morning in a disciplinary hearing with NHL vice-president of hockey operations Colin Campbell. When asked about the possibility of a suspension that ran into the playoffs, Torres said: "That'd be tough to swallow. I wouldn't be too happy about that."
Torres has defended the hit, saying that Eberle saw him coming and that he was simply finishing his check. He acknowledged that the former Canadian world junior star was in a vulnerable position with his head exposed as he reached for a puck, but noted that Eberle did not miss a shift. Torres has never been suspended before.
"[The regular-season games]might not mean anything in the standings, but at the same time, I'm trying to get my game to a level where I need to be in the playoffs," Torres said.