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NHL suspends player 25 games for launching himself into playoff foe

By the CNN Wire Staff
updated 5:51 PM EDT, Sat April 21, 2012
Marian Hossa of the Chicago Blackhawks is placed on a stretcher after being dropped by the Phoenix Coyotes' Raffi Torres.
Marian Hossa of the Chicago Blackhawks is placed on a stretcher after being dropped by the Phoenix Coyotes' Raffi Torres.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Phoenix's Raffi Torres injured Chicago's Marian Hossa during a playoff game Tuesday
  • Torres went airborned to hit a defenseless Hossa on his head
  • The NHL suspended Torres for 25 games, saying the hit violated 3 league rules

(CNN) -- The NHL on Saturday suspended Phoenix Coyotes forward Raffi Torres for 25 games for launching himself into an opponent during a playoff game earlier this week.

That means Torres -- who already sat out the fourth game of the Coyotes best-of-seven first round series with the Chicago Blackhawks -- will be out for the next 24 games. The suspension will be over the current postseason and, if there are any games left to be served, will carry over into the 2012-2013 regular season, according to the NHL.

Phoenix "accepts the NHL's decision," Coyotes General Manager Don Maloney said in a statement.

About halfway through the first period of last Tuesday's game in Chicago, Blackhawks forward Marian Hossa gave up the puck near center ice. Moments later, Torres's skates left the ice and he slammed his shoulder and elbow into Hossa's head, knocking him down hard.

The Coyotes ended up winning that game 3-2 in overtime. Up 3-1 overall in the series, they could clinch the series with a win Saturday night in Phoenix.

Hossa, who was taken by ambulance to a nearby hospital that night for evaluation, according to a statement from the Blackhawks, remains sidelined indefinitely. The 33-year-old Slovakian tallied 29 goals and 48 assists over the regular season.

Brendan Shanahan, the NHL's senior vice president of player safety and hockey operations, explained in a statement that Torres violated three rules with the hit -- interference, charging and an illegal check to the head. The abnormally long suspension for Torres was also due, in part, is because he is defined by the league as a "repeat offender" with a history "mainly of acts very similar to this one -- including two this season," Shanahan said.

Maloney described the ruling as "very severe" for Torres and the Coyotes. At the same time, he thanked NHL officials for their "thorough review" of the incident and acknowledged the seriousness of the violations.

"Raffi plays a hard, physical game, yet this contact crossed the line on what is acceptable in our game today," the general manager said.

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