Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Behind the scenes at the Raffi Torres suspension hearing

The first round of the NHL playoffs are drawing to a close. But despite several stunning upsets and breathtaking individual performances, it seems like all anyone in the hockey world wants to talk about is Raffi Torres.

Torres, of course, received a 25-game suspension from chief disciplinarian Brendan Shanahan for his devastating open-ice check on Chicago Blackhawks' star Marian Hossa. That sentence ranks among the most severe ever announced by the NHL, and was significantly higher than what most observers had been predicting.

While most NHL suspensions are handed down following a brief conference call between the league and the player involved, Torres's fate was decided at a lengthy in-person hearing due to the severity of the incident and the expected punishment. These sort of hearings are rare, and it goes without saying that what happens during one is highly confidential.

At least, it's supposed to be. But thanks to some well-placed moles at NHL headquarters, I was able to obtain a detailed transcript of the day's events. Here's a timeline of how the hearing unfolded.

Friday, April 20, 10:00 a.m. - The discipline hearing officially begins.

10:01 a.m. - As always, Raffi Torres arrives just a little bit late.

10:23 a.m. - NHLPA head Donald Fehr peppers Brendan Shanahan with questions like "What precedents have been set in similar cases?" and "What is the appeals process?" and "Wait, I've been the head of the NHLPA for almost two years, why didn't anyone tell me?"

10:34 a.m. - Every time representatives of the Chicago Blackhawks begin to complain about how unfair it is to lose a superstar player to injury on a blatantly dirty hit, Daniel Sedin pokes his head in the door and say "Tell me about it".

10:41 a.m. - Brendan Shanahan begins a presentation showing other body checks Raffi Torres has thrown over the course of his career that also targeted the opponent's head.

11:53 a.m. - After the third intermission, everyone agrees that it might actually be quicker to just show a presentation of all of the body checks Raffi Torres has thrown over the course of his career that did not target the opponent's head.

12:05 p.m. - After collecting everyone's lunch orders for the local delivery place, referee Stephen Walkom spends the rest of the afternoon staring right at the telephone but being unable to make the call.

12:37 p.m. - When it's time for the part of the hearing where the offending team's ownership gets to present its case to the NHL front office, everyone feels slightly uncomfortable when Gary Bettman insists on acting out both parts of the debate using sock puppets with high-pitched accents.

1:03 p.m. - The hearing is briefly interrupted when Metta World Peace wanders in to ask Torres if he can reschedule his weekly "flagrant elbow to the head" lessons.

1:17 p.m. - To ease the tension, everyone has good laugh about how much the window-washer working on the outside of the building looks like Shea Weber, since he's tall and he has a beard and his "squeegee" is Henrik Zetterberg's face.

1:35 p.m. - A distracted Torres keeps losing his train of thought in mid-sentence whenever the league-appointed robotics engineer who built last season's Matt Cooke Docile-bot 3000 shows up and starts checking all his limbs with a tape measure.

1:56 p.m. - A tearful Marian Hossa describes the impact that his injuries have had on his life during an emotional moment that's later ruined when everyone realizes it was actually just Kevin Bieksa impersonating him.

2:02 p.m. - Torres and the Coyotes seem disappointed when they're informed that any appeals of player discipline decisions will be heard by the league's official arbitrator, a cardboard cut-out of Gary Bettman laughing and holding a sign that says "Appeal Denied".

2:16 p.m. - After being informed that he can expect a suspension that carries well into next year, a devastated Torres mumbles that he'll just have to work hard next season to get the Phoenix fans back on his side, causing everyone in the room to just stare at him before awkwardly mumbling "Um, yeah, Phoenix…"




34 comments:

  1. 12:05 Pure brilliance!!!!

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  2. Thanks for the great laugh, great way to start the day!

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  3. pure genius. "referee Stephen Walkom spends the rest of the afternoon staring right at the telephone but being unable to make the call."

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  4. Killed me with the 10:01 a.m. line.

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  5. Sadly .... very funny.

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  6. I think if Torres had been playing 15 years earlier he would have gone through his career as a Marty McSorely type. After all, he has a Stanley Cup GWG.

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  7. Thank you for making my day. A picture caption was a little missed, though...

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  8. 12:05 p.m.

    GOLD! :-D

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  9. "Um, yeah, Phoenix…" priceless.

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  10. Had to look up the Bieksa thing, that's hilarious!

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  11. As a Blackhawks fan, this made me laugh on this depressing morning. Thanks for that :)

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  12. The Walkom and Weber lines are pure genius. Well done, DGB.

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  13. Mike Pelyk's HairdoApril 24, 2012 at 12:33 PM

    10:01, 12:05, 1:56 are all beauties. Another job well done. Photo caption? "Torres gingerly steps away from fallen Blackhawk"? No?

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  14. Caption: My mission is done here.

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  15. Don't think the cardboard cut-out is getting enough love. Just the mental image of someone holding up the laughing, sign-holding Bettman cut-out nearly killed me.

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  16. The Sedin line had me rolling.

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  17. Photo cation: Hey Ref! Hossa is trying to trip me!

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  18. When I saw the title, I knew it would be good! Hilarious as always :)

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  19. http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7240/7082267079_0c12e61ca5_b.jpg

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  20. I laughed for a good 40 seconds at the Zettersqueegee line. And I'm a Wings fan. Brilliant, as always!

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  21. Could someone explain the Walkom joke please?

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  22. Greetings from Finland. Hilarious, as usual. Laughed out loud especially at 2:02. :D

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  23. I love it when you land original jokes at a high density, and as such I think this is one of your best.

    I'm one of the odd, mutant, long-time, die-hard Coyotes fans and I am absolutely appalled both by what Torres did and the fact that the organization doesn't just throw him under the bus like Pittsburgh did with Cooke. Getting me to laugh at this was a hard sell, but you did it.

    Your Phoenix jokes are usually pretty funny, but sometimes kinda recycled. I'm hoping the CHI/PHX series gives you some fresh fodder. Torres. Boedker in overtime. Chicago scoring at the last minute. Smith being an absolute troll, (Drawing a penalty in game 2 by openly shoving Toews unprovoked. Shoving Bickle's face in the ice during game 6).

    Re: Walkom - the joke is that noob ref watched the hit happen, can be seen on video wincing in reaction to it, and didn't make the call. Probably the most egregious non-call since a certain incident in '93.

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  24. "10:01 a.m. - As always, Raffi Torres arrives just a little bit late."

    GOLD lol

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  25. Everything is hilarious, best article in a while. DGB's articles are always awesome, this one was just funny on so many levels.

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  26. "Stephen Walkom spends the rest of the afternoon staring right at the telephone but being unable to make the call."


    MY SIDES.

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  27. Kept waiting for Chris Pronger to enter the room at some point...you know he could use some work!

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  28. 10:01, 11:53, 12:05, 1:03, and 2:16 pm were all comedy f---ing gold. If there's a post on the Internet that needs to be bronzed, this it. And it can go right up next to your suspension flowchart from about four years ago.

    Seriously can't stop laughing. Brightened up my day more than you can imagine. Well done.

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  29. I couldn't stop laughing at 12:05! Great post again...

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  30. Haha, the suspension flow chart is my all-time favourite.

    thumbs up for 10:01!

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  31. i wonder if the nhl has a secret award called the kerry fraser trophy for worst non-call in a playoff series that changes the outcome of a game or series.. handed out in bill dalys office 2 weeks after the playoffs finally end..

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  32. a propos of nothing, here's something you might enjoy-- http://sports.yahoo.com/blogs/nhl-puck-daddy/joel-ward-ot-goal-illegal-kerry-fraser-tell-211332403.html

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