On Thursday night, after the Canadiens were eliminated by the Ottawa Senators, I took up my customary spot in the production booth for the final post-game show on MontrealHockeyTalk.com.
During that show, Simon Tsalikis of TSN 690 questioned why the Habs didn't go after a play like Raffi Torres at the trade deadline to bolster their physical game. I took exception during the show, and voiced my displeasure of entertaining the notion of having Torres wearing the Bleu, Blanc et Rouge.
I don't have anything against tough players. I loved former Habs like Chris "Knuckles" Nilan, Lyle Odelein and Todd Ewen (to name a few) who could be physical, yet brought some game along with their truculence. They are the type of players this team needs moving forward, in order to compete in the Stanley Cup playoffs, and possibly make a run at hockey's Holy Grail.
However, players in the mold of Torres, along with Matt Cooke and to a certain extent Ryan White, are example of players who have not distinguished the fine line between physicality and borderline recklessness.
Last night was a prime example, where in the second round opener between the Los Angeles Kings and the San Jose Sharks, Torres took a run at Kings' forward Jared Stoll. Torres hit Stoll from the blind side, making the head to principle point of contact, while Stoll was reaching for a puck.
Of course, in the professional ranks, selling the game has become more important than protecting its assets. Fans love a good open ice hit, that not only rattles the receiving player, but those watching from the stands as well.
Players like Torres and Cooke have deprived fans of talents like the Penguins' Sidney Crosby, Chicago's Marion Hossa and Bruins' forward Marc Savard, because they believe their jobs are to remove a player from competition, not simply make them pay physically for having the puck.