SAN JOSE -- As the Sharks went through their too-familiar ritual Thursday of emptying lockers after a playoff exit, Raffi Torres looked at both his past and future.

He talked for the first time about the suspension that kept him out of the final six games of the Sharks' series with the Los Angeles Kings -- "If somebody else throws that hit, then do they get suspended? Who knows? I don't want to get into that game because it'll get me nowhere."

And he said he twice went to see Jarret Stoll, his former teammate with the Edmonton Oilers who also missed the rest of the series after what was deemed an illegal head shot. "He was good about it and he understands where I was coming from."

 Jeff Carter #77 of the Los Angeles Kings poke checks the puck away from Raffi Torres #13 of the San Jose Sharks, as goaltender Jonathan Quick #32 of the
Jeff Carter #77 of the Los Angeles Kings poke checks the puck away from Raffi Torres #13 of the San Jose Sharks, as goaltender Jonathan Quick #32 of the Los Angeles Kings defends in the third period of Game One of the Western Conference Semifinals during the 2013 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Staples Center on May 14, 2013 in Los Angeles, California. The Kings defeated the Sharks 2-0. (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)

But Torres, who becomes an unrestricted free agent July 1, also looked down the road and declared he wants to stay a Shark.

"It's not going to be hard to make a decision to stay here. They know I want to," said Torres, 31, who was acquired at the April 3 trade deadline from the Phoenix Coyotes. "It's a great group of guys in here ... and it'd be a good place to win."

The feeling seemed mutual.

"I'm encouraged that he'd like to be back," coach Todd McLellan said. "I thought he fit in extremely well into our locker room quickly, which isn't easy to do, and I believe we missed him when we needed him the most in that final series."

Added general manager Doug Wilson: "We look at players that play the style we want to play, that can add to this team. Do I think Raffi can? Yes I do."


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Wilson came to Torres's defense when the left wing was suspended for the duration of the Sharks series with Los Angeles for his hit on Stoll, criticizing the league's decision. The NHL fined the team $100,000 for his comments and Wilson would not amplify his thoughts on the matter Thursday.

But Torres, who earned a prorated $1.75 million this season, did talk about his suspension for the duration of the series that went the full seven games before the Kings prevailed.

"It was obviously tough to go through the whole thing, but with Dougie and the team and Todd here, it was much easier to go through something like that again," said Torres, who was suspended for 21 games a year ago for an elbow that concussed Chicago Blackhawks forward Marian Hossa.

That hit and others throughout his career earned Torres his reputation as a dirty player, a past cited by the NHL in the latest suspension.

But earlier this season, Coyotes coach Dave Tippett worked with Torres to clean up his act and all season the left wing only had six minor penalties, plus one fight as payback for the Hossa hit. Then came the Stoll incident.

"I still feel like it was a clean hit," he said, adding that he recognized Stoll was "kind of in a vulnerable position, but I feel like I did my best to stay within the guidelines. Obviously they didn't see it that way."

Stoll suffered both a concussion and shoulder injury after the hit, but could be ready to play for Los Angeles this weekend when it opens its Western Conference finals series against the Chicago Blackhawks.

The two are close enough friends that Stoll was in Torres' wedding party two years ago. In addition to the visit the night of the hit, the two talked after Game 7 as well.

With his speed as well as physical style of play, Torres immediately helped the Sharks become a quicker team. He also contributed offensively with two goals and four assists plus a shootout winner, in 11 regular-season games. He also scored the overtime goal that won Game 2 in San Jose's sweep of the Vancouver Canucks.

"Maybe over the past three or four seasons I was limited to kind of one role," Torres said. "It's nice to come here and get some power play time and be put in some aspects of the game that are important. It's good to be relied on once in a while."

For more on the Sharks, see David Pollak's Working the Corners blog at blogs.mercurynews.com/sharks. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/PollakOnSharks.