Raffi Torres’ Absence Actually a Big Loss for Sharks

“True Grit”

(Russell LaBounty-USA TODAY Sports)
(Russell LaBounty-USA TODAY Sports)

After acquiring “tough guy” Raffi Torres in a deadline deal in 2013, the San Jose Sharks have rarely had his services available. No, not because of suspension (although he was suspended in the 2013 playoffs on a bogus call) but primarily due to an ACL injury. Torres missed the vast majority of 2013-14 after a preseason collision with Anaheim Ducks forward Emerson Etem. He returned for a few regular season games and to use his words “played on one leg” in the playoffs. Torres has yet to play this regular season. Complications from an infection in the surgically repaired knee were thought to require a repeat surgery but the plan now is for Torres to play without an ACL and wear a brace for support. Former NHL players like Joe Nieuwendyk have played a number of games without an ACL so it is possible Torres could return and have an impact this season. If he can return, even a limited and rusty Torres would be a big boost for the Sharks.

While Torres has a fairly deserved reputation for past dirty hits, that reputation unfortunately overshadows his high level of skill. We are not talking about your basic fourth line agitator here, this is a winger capable of playing in the top-six. Back in 2013 with Martin Havlat injured, Torres stepped up and played phenomenally well alongside Patrick Marleau and Logan Couture on San Jose’s second line. With Brent Burns on the first line and Torres on the second, the Sharks had top scoring lines with a high level of nasty. The speed and physical play from these two up front made the Sharks look as dangerous as ever. With Torres injured and Burns back on the blue-line, it is difficult to envision them winning the Stanley Cup without that type of tenacious forechecking presence.

Trust me, when it comes to Torres’ dirty past, I was as big of a critic as you could find. Torres knocked my favorite player Milan Michalek out of the playoffs with this hit back in 2006. I still have my Michalek jersey but how does the saying go? Time heals all wounds? The impact Torres had on the Sharks during the 2013 stretch run was undeniable. His intense style, ability to possess the puck, and be a physical presence was a much needed combination. His energetic style and “true grit” had the ability to wake up the Sharks more than any Mike Brown fight ever could. The 33-year-old Torres was drafted fifth overall back in 2000 and it is easy to see why. He won’t light up the league with 50 or more points when healthy but he is an underrated even strength producer who can set people up and finish equally as well. His goal and assist numbers are nearly identical over his career, with a few more goals than assists. Overall 260 career points in 635 games is a respectable .41 points per game. When you consider the fact the large majority of this points have come at even strength, that is a phenomenal output for a top-9 winger.


(Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports)
(Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports)

Awhile back at my previous site Inside Hockey, I wrote that Torres is to the Sharks as paprika spice is to deviled eggs. Anyone who has ever made deviled eggs knows exactly what I’m talking about. The tasty h’orderve doesn’t need paprika to taste good, it isn’t a vital cog to the overall taste. However, without it, there lacks that finish product, that extra little final touch that really puts it over the top in terms of taste. Similarly, Torres isn’t an All-Star player, he isn’t a big time performer on the top power-play or anything, but he brings an element or ingredient I should say to the Sharks that they lack without him. They can still be pretty good without him, but just not quite as good.

When/if Torres can return is still a big question mark. Last update a few weeks ago was that he had begun skating on his own in San Jose. The lack of updates certainly isn’t good news but Torres did make an immediate impact in the few regular season games he was able to play last year. He also made a strong impact in the first part of the playoff series against LA before the entire team fell apart. With the Sharks having an unimpressive bottom six forward group for the majority of their 10 straight playoff appearances, even a Torres on say one-and-a-half good legs would be better than no Torres at all.

25 thoughts on “Raffi Torres’ Absence Actually a Big Loss for Sharks”

  1. @ericsaxon35, most sharks comment on Andrews articles that he also posts on the Sharks Facebook group page. I find it quite entertaining that you go to our “homer” Andrew as a source for hockey news. Writers for the kings must be horrible if you have to read into every article about the Sharks…keep huffing your own farts on that high horse bandwagon ur on. As far as LA being “more” of a hockey town…there were nothing but crickets in LA before 2012. Yes we always depart early in the playoffs but at least we stay loyal through the good and bad. Good read Andrew and GO SHARKS!

  2. The hit was bogus and Raffi got unfairly suspended for it because of his track record, and btw whatever dude laughed that Michalek was Andrew’s favorite player that was tacky and you dont know hockey. He was an still is a top 6 player who scores goals and puts up points when healthy. He was a tremendous skater with speed, vision and goal scoring ability as a Shark!

  3. Andrew, Andrew, Andrew…..it’s okay to be a homer, which you are to the surprise of none, and siding with a desperate GM always makes for good cover, which you do unabashedly in this blog concerning the Torres hit to Stoll’s head, however, implying it was a clean hit is delusional at best. The funniest note here is, you link the NHL’s video of the hit (which clearly and accurately states the facts of the hit and subsequent suspension), therefore managing to subvert your own position, very San Jose Sharks like, akin to Clowe playing the puck from the bench.

    • think what you want but the head was not targeted. Rule reads targeted and primary point of contact. It was the primary point indeed but he targeted the shoulder and unfortunately slipped off got mostly the head. Sometimes there are legal hits that involve head contact. Gotta keep your head up. Thanks for the read and comment!

  4. What follows wasn’t my original comment, but I borrow it on occasion. When someone makes a dirty hit that might seem to at least be worthy of the league taking a look, the comment was ‘if it had been Raffi making that hit, the league would send him to the chair’. That seems to be the way it is with him, not that he didn’t earn that rep.

    • Personally i think the NHL uses too much of repeat offender stuff into their decisions. Anybody else on the Sharks and thats not a suspension.

  5. Oh Andy, Andy, you and that “bogus call” are cute but as I’m seeing you’ve got plenty of Kings’ fans reading your articles just like me. I guess LA is more of a Hockey Town than San Jose, so much so, in fact that we read your articles and respond more often than your San Jose ‘fans’ do. :D Well, either way, have a good day and good luck, trying to paint the Kings as the big bad evil villains of another failed season for your Guppies, lol.

    • If i recall correctly a lot of neutral analysts thought it was a clean hit, i think Ken Daneyko was one of them.

  6. Sharks have a lot of 4th line quality players playing these days. Nieto, Goodrow, Hertl are all young, so-so players at the moment (unfortunately, Hertl isn’t looking like the same player as he was as a rookie prior to injury). John Scott, Andrew Desjardins are among the vets who are out there as well. Sharks need some guys capable of being effective in 2nd and 3rd line rolls — so they can roll 4 lines and Raffi fit that. But I doubt Raffi comes back as much more than another 4th line level talent. Guy was good when he had two good knees. I don’t think he’ll be close to what he once was when he returns.

    • Well Nieto and Hertl are usually in the top-9, the fourth line even without Raffi could be really good once TK comes back, they could roll out 89-10-81, even 89-10-25 isnt bad, but for some reason they are attached to terrible players like Scott and Brown.

      • Sharks have for years had the same issue. Good top 6 and then a 3rd line made up of guys who should be on your 4th line. And 4th line that is usually too weak to roll a lot. Its what happens when you have Kennedy and Burish and Desjardins and JScott and MBrown and Nieto and Hertl (this year’s version) and a bunch of younger players. Its what happens when you decide you’d rather have Tye McGinn instead of Jamie McGinn. Sheppard, Karlsson and Goodrow would make a very nice 4th line, the sort a a Cup contender needs. But they are a 3rd line … and that is kind of the issue.

        • exactly, but this team even with signing those awful players, if the coaching and management came to their senses, they could roll out four quality lines.


          and thats not including TK (who i actually like) and Torres.
          But instead of playing pavs on the third line to spread the power over multiple lines so they can roll four good ones, they keep him up top, keep burns on D where he isnt very good, and prefer to play guys like scott n brown over goodrow and mcginn.

  7. When he was on the Coyotes I didn’t think much of him. It was Raffi, big goon on the bench. When we traded/lost him a lot of us figured “eh, we still have Biz.” Then we quickly realized Raffi is much more than just the goon. He digs into players and annoys them, plus he has more skill than a goon. He’s a player you despise when he isn’t on your team and miss when he leaves your team. And all we got for him was a lame third round pick….. such a shame. Sharks are going to get a huge boost when he returns, and as a division rival that’s scary.

    • Appreciate the read and comment! Raffi is a solid 2-way player, brings energy on the forecheck and can actually generate a good amount of offense off that forecheck.

    • Usually a GM won’t risk a fine defending his player if it was clearly a bad hit. Lots of people had no problems with the hit. He did not target the head, as Wilson outlines, the hit did not violate the rule the way it is worded in the rule book. Thanks for the read and comment!

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