W roundtable: NHL's discipline problem

The NHL suspended the Phoenix Coyotes' Raffi Torres 25 games for a late hit. What is your opinion of the penalty and do you think it will have an effect on the level of violence in the playoffs?

Torres suspension sends a clear message

By Jane McManus

Raffi Torres is an example. The NHL has been awash in hard play during the playoffs and, at times, has sent mixed messages about what kind of conduct will be tolerated. The 25-game suspension is a pretty clear message.

After the season is over, hopefully the NHL will be able to figure out a way to communicate and consistently enforce the line between hard play and illegal contact.

It's not just the NHL. The NFL is wrestling with how best to maintain the kind of play fans love while taking into account the science of brain injuries. The league has been faced with lawsuits for turning a blind eye to player safety, which is something neither the NFL nor NHL can really afford to do anymore.

The Coyotes will have to figure out how to manage the playoffs without Torres, but these kinds of fines and penalties aren't going away.

NHL got it right with Torres suspension

By Sarah Spain

I'm admittedly biased on this topic, as I was in attendance at the United Center last Tuesday when Torres left his feet and launched himself at Marian Hossa, causing Hossa to leave the game on a stretcher. I was also watching a year ago when Torres (then with this Canucks) crushed Brent Seabrook with a vicious head shot in Game 3 of the Vancouver/Chicago opening-round series.

Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Marian Hossa had to be removed from the ice on stretcher after Raffi Torres' hit on him during last Tuesday's game in Chicago.

Watching Torres continue to disrespect the game and its players, particularly those on my hometown team, has been infuriating. Three suspensions in the last 13 months and countless fines throughout his career have done little to affect Torres' approach to the game. It was time to send a message -- one that could not be ignored.

The NHL has been terribly inconsistent when it comes to doling out discipline of late, particularly during this postseason. Getting it right with Torres won't make up for the times it has gotten it wrong, but it's a start. You better believe repeat offenders who see the Torres suspension (and the almost half-million dollars in salary he's forfeiting) will think twice about how they play the game.

Torres deserved hefty penalty

By Amanda Rykoff

The NHL, the only league with players known as "goons" (designated fighters), has made player safety a priority this season. The league's suspension of Raffi Torres for his brutal late hit on Marian Hossa represents Exhibit A in this new commitment. Not only did Torres hit Hossa late, but he targeted Hossa's head and forced the Blackhawks star out of the game on a stretcher. This kind of violence during the Stanley Cup playoffs cannot -- and will not -- stand. I applaud Brendan Shanahan for imposing one of the longest suspensions in NHL history. But will the suspension impact the level of the violence in the playoffs? I'm not sure.

According to Shanahan, the NHL's senior vice president of hockey and business development, the 25-game penalty wasn't handed down just because of the type of hit (note that it wasn't even called a penalty by the game referees), but also because of who did the hitting. Torres is a repeat headhunting offender. Despite five prior suspensions -- including three in the past 13 months -- for similar questionable hits, Torres didn't seem to take the warnings seriously. In addition, the hit caused a "severe injury," as Shanahan explained in his detailed video outlining the NHL's reasons for the suspension. Finally, Torres violated three rules with his hit: interference, charging and illegal check to the head. This combination of factors resulted in the league's decision to impose such a harsh penalty.

Are other NHL players in the playoffs taking note of this suspension? Absolutely. Will it prevent additional checks to the head? Hopefully. Player safety remains a league priority, but this message is really one for Torres. Here's hoping that he pays attention this time and doesn't send any more players out on stretchers. Well, at least when he returns next season. He's done for the rest of the playoffs. And rightfully so.

Suspension aimed at Torres, widespread effect felt

By Michelle Smith

The NHL's 25-game suspension of Raffi Torres for his brutal hit on Chicago's Marian Hossa was entirely justified, considering how many times -- six, reportedly -- Torres was warned about his penchant to deliver blows to the head this season. If this is what it takes to finally get the message across, so be it.

This suspension, one of the longest in league history and one that will last into the start of the 2012-13 season, appears to be meant mostly for Torres and not to serve as a new bar for the rest of the league. But it certainly has the effect of a deterrent during a playoff season marked by violent play on the ice and a total of nine suspensions. Play dirty and risk sitting out your team's playoff run.

The irony is there was no penalty on the actual play.

Err on the side of caution: 25 games not enough

By Adena Andrews

When it comes to penalties, I'm all for erring on the side of caution. If 25 games seem like too much to some, I have to give it a "Van Gundy Diet Pepsi swig." I'm pretty apathetic to the feelings of Raffi Torres and the Phoenix Coyotes.

I rather suspend someone for too many games than let him get away with excessive violence on the ice. Players have to realize there are severe consequences for their actions. Not only will the player suffer, but also the team and its chance to advance in the playoffs. That's why severe penalties like this are needed.

A 25-game suspension isn't enough for Torres, who has been suspended three times in 13 months. I would like to see a rehabilitation program or legal action for a player with as many offenses as Torres. I'm sure Marian Hossa's family would like the same.

NHL's acceptance of fighting is biggest problem

By Melissa Jacobs

A 25-game suspension in any sport is an eye-opener. The penalty needed to be severe, because Raffi Torres' horrific shot to the head of Marian Hossa warranted it, of course. But it also occurred in the wake of the league's failure to suspend Nashville defenseman Shea Weber for slamming the head of Detroit center Henrik Zetterberg into the glass wall earlier in the playoffs. Weber was fined $2,500.

Inconsistency in disciplinary action is one issue. The far greater issue, though, is the flat-out acceptance of fighting in hockey. Sure, there are fines and suspensions here and there, but for the most part, general fighting warrants no more than a light slap on the wrist.

Exhibit A from the NHL's official website: Rule 46.21"Fines and Suspensions -- Instigator -- A player who is deemed to be the instigator of an altercation for the third time in one regular season shall be suspended for the next two regular season games of his team."

Are you kidding me? Three instigated fights before a player is suspended? The NHL's problem is it suspends based on effect, not intent. You can bet the Torres penalty would have been drastically different had Hossa not been carried out on a stretcher. Twenty-five games may send a message to some in the league for its sheer volume, but it is ultimately just a big Band-Aid until the league takes fighting seriously.

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