Probably to no one's surprise, Vancouver Canucks' coach Alain Vigneault came to the defence of the bewildered Raffi Torres on Sunday night, in the immediate aftermath of a 3-2 win over the Chicago Blackhawks to put his team up 3-0 in the series.
Torres had a chance to wear the goat horns after his crushing hit on Blackhawks' defenceman Brent Seabrook put Chicago on a second-period power-play and permitted them to tie the game. The Canucks subsequently scored the only goal of the third period, won anyway and now have a stranglehold on the series.
Torres wasn't available for comment after the game, but talked all morning about the need to play disciplined and stay out of the penalty - and then couldn't follow through on his promises.
Funny too because Torres - back in 2006, in his Edmonton Oilers' days - changed the momentum of a series against the San Jose Sharks with a massive open-ice hit on Milan Michalek.
But times have changed and so have NHL sensibilities and now, what was once a highlight film collision is now subject to supplementary discipline. Torres was just back in the line-up after serving a four-game suspension for a hit to the head of the Edmonton Oilers' Jordan Eberle. Vigneault wouldn't venture a guess as to whether Torres will be hearing from the NHL's chief of discipline, Colin Campbell today, but most everybody suspects he'll get a call.
Vigneault doesn't think Torres needs to change much, noting that: "A physical dimension is part of his game. Obviously, there are some adjustments and some education that all players have to go through, but I look at that hit and I compare that hit to (Ryan) Getzlaf on (Dan Hamhuis). I compare that hit to (Alexei) Ponikarovsky on Hamhuis - same type of hit - and Getzlaf didn't even get a penalty on his.
"I mean, hockey's a collision sport. There's a lot of intensity. You're always walking that fine line."
Vigneault said he didn't think Torres hit even warranted a penalty, "but at the end of the day, that's me.
"Obviously, you don't ever want to see a player get hurt and I understand where they're going with this. But hockey is still a physical game, a collision game. Each and every one of us wants it to stay a physical game, without players getting hurt. That being said though, there's a physicality in the game and there's always going to be injuries out there."Report Typo/Error