Vigneault comes to the defence of Torres

April 17, 2011

Probably to no one's surprise, Vancouver Canucks' coach Alain Vigneault came to the defence of the bewildered Raffi Torres on Sunday night, in the immediate aftermath of a 3-2 win over the Chicago Blackhawks to put his team up 3-0 in the series.

Torres had a chance to wear the goat horns after his crushing hit on Blackhawks' defenceman Brent Seabrook put Chicago on a second-period power-play and permitted them to tie the game. The Canucks subsequently scored the only goal of the third period, won anyway and now have a stranglehold on the series.

Torres wasn't available for comment after the game, but talked all morning about the need to play disciplined and stay out of the penalty - and then couldn't follow through on his promises.

Funny too because Torres - back in 2006, in his Edmonton Oilers' days - changed the momentum of a series against the San Jose Sharks with a massive open-ice hit on Milan Michalek.

But times have changed and so have NHL sensibilities and now, what was once a highlight film collision is now subject to supplementary discipline. Torres was just back in the line-up after serving a four-game suspension for a hit to the head of the Edmonton Oilers' Jordan Eberle. Vigneault wouldn't venture a guess as to whether Torres will be hearing from the NHL's chief of discipline, Colin Campbell today, but most everybody suspects he'll get a call.

Vigneault doesn't think Torres needs to change much, noting that: "A physical dimension is part of his game. Obviously, there are some adjustments and some education that all players have to go through, but I look at that hit and I compare that hit to (Ryan) Getzlaf on (Dan Hamhuis). I compare that hit to (Alexei) Ponikarovsky on Hamhuis - same type of hit - and Getzlaf didn't even get a penalty on his.

"I mean, hockey's a collision sport. There's a lot of intensity. You're always walking that fine line."

Vigneault said he didn't think Torres hit even warranted a penalty, "but at the end of the day, that's me.

"Obviously, you don't ever want to see a player get hurt and I understand where they're going with this. But hockey is still a physical game, a collision game. Each and every one of us wants it to stay a physical game, without players getting hurt. That being said though, there's a physicality in the game and there's always going to be injuries out there."

(Ads will not print)