After weeks of mulling over his decision, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman announced Monday that Phoenix Coyotes forward Raffi Torres' suspension for his illegal shoulder-to-head hit on Blackhawks star Marian Hossa has been reduced by four games.
Torres was initially suspended 25 games by league disciplinarian Brendan Shanahan for his vicious hit on Hossa during the first round of the playoffs. Hossa was carted off on stretcher after the hit and hospitalized. He suffered a severe concussion and has been recovering slowly in his native Slovakia.
Torres, through the NHL Players' Association, appealed the length of the suspension and not the suspension itself. Bettman is the arbitrator in such cases. On May 17, Torres met with Bettman at a hearing in New York. He was orginially suspended on April 21.
Technically, Bettman announced a "new" 21-game suspension for Torres with time already served. A reputed headhunter with a long history of supplemental discipline, Torres served 13 games of his suspension during the postseason. The remaining 12 games would have carried over into the regular season (2012-13).
Now, Torres will only sit out eight games.
Since he is classified as a repeat offender under the current collective bargaining agreement, Torres will still forfeit $170,731.68 in salary. He also is ineligible to participate in any preseason games.
"This type of on-ice conduct cannot and will not be tolerated in the NHL," Bettman said in a statement. "We have seen similar behavior before from Mr. Torres and, particularly given the league's heightened scrutiny on hits to the head, I believe that a very significant penalty is warranted in this case. We hope and expect that the severity of this incident, and the league's response to it, will help prevent any similar incident from occurring in the future."