Cherry backs Sharks' Torres amid second-round ban
A screen grab shows Don Cherry during Friday night's Hockey Night segment.
The way Don Cherry sees it, the NHL is targeting San Jose Sharks agitator Raffi Torres, who this week was handed a heavy penalty following a controversial hit on L.A. Kings centre Jarret Stoll.
“If it hadn’t have been Raffi Torres,” Cherry said during Friday’s Coach’s Corner segment on Hockey Night, “it would have been maybe a game (suspension).”
Instead, Torres, a repeat offender and one of the league’s more prominent bad boys, was handed a suspension that will see him miss the entire second round of the playoffs.
The Sharks currently trail the Kings 2-0 in their Western Conference semifinal series heading to San Jose for Game 3.
“I like Stoll (but) I don’t think he (Torres) should have got (the punishment he received),” Cherry said during the first intermission between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Ottawa Senators.
In a quip that will surely rile up his most hardened detractors, Cherry went as far to say that Torres would have received praise for Tuesday's hit in a previous generation
“Twenty years ago, you would’ve got a medal for doing something like (Torres) did,” Cherry said.
The NHL announced Thursday that Torres is suspended for the remainder of their Western Conference semifinal series due to what the league classified a head shot against Stoll.
“Rather than hit Stoll through the core of his body, Torres takes a route that makes Stoll's head the principle point of contact,” said NHL disciplinarian Brendan Shanahan.
“Although we'd agree that Torres might make initial contact with Stoll's shoulder, that is a glancing blow. In fact, the head is the principle point of contact.”
On Friday, San Jose Sharks general manager Doug Wilson issued his club’s rebuttal.
“Upon review of the incident, it is abundantly clear that this was a clean hockey hit. 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.”