Published April 18, 2011
| National Hockey League
CHICAGO (AP) - Chicago defenseman Brent Seabrook says he's OK after a hard hit from Vancouver's Raffi Torres. After watching replays, he said the initial blow was to his head, and that's why he thinks Torres should have been suspended.
Torres' hit on Seabrook just racheted up the emotion in the opening-round playoff series that continues Tuesday night at the United Center.
"They are a beatable team. We haven't done that in three games; we haven't been able to prove that we can be a better team on one single night," Chicago captain Jonathan Toews said. "It is frustrating and disappointing."
Torres returned Sunday night from a four-game suspension for his blow to the head of Edmonton's Jordan Eberle. In the second period, he came from one side of the net and floored Seabrook who was chasing the puck.
"I think he kept his elbow in, but he hit the head first," Seabrook said. "That's the first thing I felt, the only thing I felt. ... Whether or not he was targeting it or not, he made contact with the head first."
This time Torres will not be suspended.
NHL vice president Colin Campbell explained Monday that Torres' hit to the head with a shoulder was not illegal, saying Torres did not leave his feet or use an elbow or an extended forearm and that the hit was not late.
Depending on which side you favor, reaction to the hit was handled differently Monday.
"With his history, I think that hit deserves a suspension. I'm not going to sit up here and complain about that," said Seabrook, one of the Blackhawks' most physical players.
"It's a fast game, things happen quick. You have a split second to make a decision. I don't think he was trying to hit me in the head, but at the same time if the league is not going to suspend somebody for that, I don't really understand that."
Vancouver's Henrik Sedin said he was glad to hear Torres won't be suspended.
"There have been a lot of hits that our team has been part of. Looked the same and nothing has been done about that," Sedin said. "So we're happy."
Chicago coach Joel Quenneville said he would accept the league's decision, but his biggest beef - as it was after Vancouver's 3-2 win Sunday night - was that Torres only drew an interference penalty and not a five-minute major.
"He didn't touch the puck, an impact hit like that you can be exposed to several injuries," Quenneville said.
Vancouver coach Alain Vigneault declined comment on the suspension issue, saying he had not talked with the league office. After the game, he said he didn't feel the hit even merited a penalty.
Seabrook went to the bench after the hit, returned to the ice, took another hit and then went off to be tested for a concussion. He was given the go-ahead to return and played in the third period.
"It's playoff hockey. Hockey is a physical sport; you are going to take your hits and give some hits, and the refs are going to take care of the bad hits," Sedin said.
Chicago's Duncan Keith, usually paired with Seabrook on defense, is OK with the nature of the series, just not with what Torres did.
"He's obviously going in there to try and hurt a guy, injure him. I understand it's playoff hockey. Everybody want to get their hits in, and you're hitting hard to leave an impression. But to me it's a blatant hit to the head to a guy who doesn't even have the puck," Keith said. "Seabs didn't have the puck. You think Torres was going for the puck? No. It's just ridiculous."
Chicago had its chances Sunday night at the United Center, took a 1-0 lead and had four first-period power plays, one of them a 5-on-3 for 77 seconds. But Luongo snuffed that out with a couple of beautiful saves against Toews and Patrick Kane.
The Blackhawks, who lost 10 players from their championship team a year ago in a salary-cap purge in the offseason, have not been able to match up four lines with the Canucks, who also have plenty of depth on defense.
"When you have six defenseman like we have right now that are hitting like they are, you can tell on the tape (that) they are looking up instead of maybe focusing on the next play," Sedin said. "It's tough to play against."