SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) — San Jose Sharks general manager Doug Wilson said Friday that the organization strongly disagrees with the NHL's decision to suspend forward Raffi Torres for a hit that knocked out Los Angeles forward Jarret Stoll.
"It is abundantly clear that this was a clean hockey hit," Wilson said in a 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."
The NHL's Department of Player Safety sharply disagreed while suspending Torres on Thursday for the rest of the second-round series. It is the fourth career suspension for Torres, who is considered a repeat offender in dangerous hits under the league's collective bargaining agreement.
Stoll was bent forward while trying to play a bouncing puck when Torres approached him from the side for a violent hit in Game 1 on Tuesday night. Stoll's head snapped back violently before he fell forward onto the ice.
In an explanatory video released by Brendan Shanahan, the NHL's senior vice president of player safety, he said Stoll's head was "the principal point of contact" in the hit, creating grounds for suspension. Although Torres initially made contact with Stoll's right shoulder, Shanahan ruled that the shoulder hit was only a glancing blow, as evidenced by the direction both players traveled after the contact.
Wilson said the head must be targeted to violate Rule 48.1 and there is no evidence that Torres targeted Stoll's head. Wilson also said Stoll put himself in a vulnerable position just before the hit to play a bouncing puck.