Hawks in disbelief
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Besides a two-minute penalty during Game 3, Vancouver Canucks left wing Raffi Torres was not punished further by the NHL for his hit on Brent Seabrook.
Rick West | Staff Photographer
Rule 48.1 Illegal Check to the Head — A lateral or blind side hit to an opponent where the head is targeted and/or the principal point of contact is not permitted.
Seems clear enough.
But for Senior Executive Vice President of Hockey Operations, Colin Campbell, Vancouver's Raffi Torres' shoulder-led hit square to the head of Blackhawks defenseman Brent Seabrook in the second period of Game 3 Sunday night didn't quite fit the bill.
According to Campbell, "This hit meets none of the criteria that would subject Torres to supplemental discipline, including an application of Rule 48: he did not charge his opponent or leave his feet to deliver this check. He did not deliver an elbow or extended forearm and this hit was not 'late.'"
According to Seabrook's teammates, that's a bunch of bull.
"Seabs didn't have the puck. You think Torres was going for the puck? No," defenseman Duncan Keith said. "It's just ridiculous.
"He's obviously going in there to try and hurt a guy, injure him. I understand it's playoff hockey and everybody wants to get their hits in, but to me it's a blatant hit to the head to a guy who doesn't even have the puck."
Added Patrick Sharp: "On hits like that I'm usually the first one to give guys the benefit of the doubt. But in this situation I just look at the player making the hit and his intent. He played eight minutes, nine minutes, and I don't think he touched the puck.
"Earlier he took a run at (Brian) Campbell and missed him so he tried to elbow him in the head. He got a penalty on that as well. It's pretty clear what his intentions were.
"That's not the way to play."
Seabrook on Monday gave a first-hand version of what he saw ... and felt when Torres came a knocking along the boards behind the Blackhawks net.
"He kept his elbow in but he hit the head first," Seabrook said. "That's the first thing I felt, the only thing I felt. The rest of my body is feeling it (now). Whether or not he was targeting it, he made contact with the head first."
So, are you surprised Torres wasn't suspended?
"Yep," Seabrook said. "With his history, that hit deserved a suspension. If the league is not going to suspend someone for that, I just don't understand that.
"You have to make the same suspension whether the guy was taken off on a stretcher or playing the next shift."
After absorbing the blow, Seabrook crumpled to the ice but amazingly got up under his own power and somehow wobbled to the bench.
He even returned to the ice a few minutes later, but took a couple more big blows along the boards before finally heading to the dressing room to be looked at ... albeit reluctantly.
"I wanted to play," he said. "It's the playoffs. We're all playing through injuries and bumps and bruises. "
While the Hawks were irate with the non-suspension, Torres' teammates thought it justified.
"There have been a lot of hits that our team has been a part of and they looked the same and nothing has been done about that," Henrik Sedin said, "so we're happy."
"I think again it's a clean hit," Jannick Hansen said. "It was a hard hit, but again if it's clean, you start take hitting out of the game and then you have to change the rule all together."
Hawks captain Jonathan Toews expected just that kind of reaction.
"There will be biased opinions from both sides," Toews said. "They obviously won't think it's a suspension and we do.
"We feel like it has to be at least a borderline head hit and considering what Torres has been up to lately, it's no coincidence that something like that would happen. It's frustrating that the league didn't take action in our favor."
Toews said the non-suspension will serve as even more motivation for a Blackhawks team that is backed into a corner, trailing Vancouver 3-0 with the series on the line tonight at the United Center.
"Throw that on too," he said. "What more motivation do we need in this Game 4 coming up? We've got to get even — in more ways than one.
"(Things like the Torres hit) is just concrete evidence of how much we dislike that team and it's added motivation to our situation."
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