SAN JOSE — Sharks general manager Doug Wilson has broken 24 hours of silence to declare that the suspension of Raffi Torres for the duration of the playoff series against the Los Angeles Kings is "grossly unfair to Raffi, his teammates and our fans."
"The Sharks organization fully supports the NHL in its efforts to remove illegal and dangerous hits from the game," Wilson said in a prepared statement, "but we strongly disagree with the NHL's decision to suspend Raffi Torres."
Wilson also stated that Torres will not appeal the ruling so as not to be a distraction while the playoffs continue.
Wilson characterized Torres' contact with Los Angeles Kings center Jarret Stoll as "a clean hockey hit" that does not meet the criteria for punishment under Rule 48.1, the passage cited by NHL disciplinarian Brendan Shanahan in suspending Torres.
"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," Wilson said. "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 rule bans hits where the head is targeted and the principal point of contact.
"With the use of the word 'and,' this rule clearly states that two elements must occur in order to violate the rule," Wilson said. "Raffi absolutely did not target his opponent's head on the play. The call on the ice specifically acknowledged that the head was not targeted and nowhere in the NHL's ruling does it insinuate or suggest that the opponent's head was targeted."
Wilson called it unfortunate that Stoll was injured in the play, but also cites the provision of the rule that says whether the player being hit put himself in a vulnerable position can also be considered.
"As evidenced in the video, just prior to Torres making contact with the opposing player," Wilson said, "that player altered his posture to play a bouncing puck with his hand, placing himself in a vulnerable position.
The Sharks general manager accused the league of "trying to make an example out of a player who is being judged on past events, one who has changed his game dramatically this season and taken only six minor penalties in 39 games."
Torres practiced with the team Friday, but was not made available to the media.