We argued yesterday that the angle of NBC's replay--the one most commonly circulated--makes the hit look like shoulder-to-shoulder contact gone wrong. However, the reverse angle makes it seem more like shoulder-to-head contact to me.
The Sharks' defense of Torres hinged on the argument that Stoll's head was not the principal point of contact, but his shoulder. (Principal means "most important" rather than "initial" or "first".)
Shanahan rejects that defense in his ruling, saying that shoulder-to-shoulder contact could only have been glancing given the way Stoll's body reacted to the hit.
Shanahan also points out that Torres had time to change his approach to deliver a legal check to the body.
Why reputation matters
This was a hit that likely would have received a 1-2 game suspension at most if it had involved a first-time offender. Once the league determined this was a check to the head, though, Torres' record of multiple fines and suspensions had to be taken into account.
Torres went half a season without being suspended, but this redemption effort does not count as much as his past when it comes to handing out punishment. He is already classified as a repeat offender under the disciplinary guidelines of the CBA.
Can Torres appeal?
The truly bizarre wrinkle in all of this is that we don't have a set number of games the suspension will last. This may be a tactical move by the NHL. Under the reported rules of the new CBA, Torres would be able to appeal to an arbitrator if the suspension was six or more games. There are only six possible games in this series left. Will it even get to that point? Will there be time for appeal if it does?
Stoll's injury may make it more difficult for the Kings to close this out. Tactics wise, Torres-for-Stoll is a good tradeoff for the Sharks. Besides being a top penalty killer, Stoll was used to shut down SJ's top lines at the start of Game 1. San Jose has naturally discussed how best to exploit his absence.
Questions for the day: How do you think of the Wheel of Justice did in this case? Do you agree with the argument that it was principal contact was with Stoll's head?
You can't #FreeRaffi from his own reputation. But should we?