CHICAGO – Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Brent Seabrook was a little woozy following a big hit by Vancouver Canucks forward Raffi Torres on Sunday night, but was able to finish Game 3 of their Western Conference Quarterfinal on Sunday night at the United Center.
The defending Stanley Cup champions were also wobbled after dropping the game 3-2 and falling down 3-0 in the series, but the hit by Torres was a big talking point in both locker rooms after the game.
Seabrook was behind the Chicago goal looking behind him to play the puck when Torres barreled into the 6-foot-3, 218-pound Hawks defenseman at full speed – sending him sprawling to the ice. Seabrook, who hadn't seen a video replay, said Torres' shoulder hit him in the head.
"I felt it on my cheek and my ear," he said. "I didn't have control of the puck ... I don't know what I was looking at to be honest with you."
Torres, who was not available for comment, was playing his first game since being suspended for the first two games of the series after an illegal hit to the head of Edmonton Oilers forward Jordan Eberle in the last week of the regular season.
This hit was assessed a minor for interference, but stirred debate by both sides after the game. Canucks coach Alain Vigneault said he didn't think it even warranted a penalty – which Chicago scored during to tie the game 2-2 at 12:40 of the second period.
Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville was upset and said it should have been a major infraction.
"If he wasn't a big Western Canadian kid, somebody else would've been on a stretcher," Quenneville said. "Is it a suspension? I don't have to worry about it. It's not my call. Guy didn't even get through his first game back off one."
The hit did seem to fire up the Hawks, who'd fallen into a sustained lull after not converting during a 5-on-3 situation midway through the first period. Torres went to the penalty box and the Hawks made it count with a game-tying goal at 12:40 of the second by Patrick Sharp just 26 seconds into the man advantage.
Meanwhile, Seabrook stayed on the bench as Chicago's medical staff talked to him. He returned to the ice 1:30 after Sharp's goal and it didn't take long for Torres to target him a second time – this time legally along the boards near the left hash mark in the Chicago zone.
Tanner Glass was also credited with a hit on Seabrook just seconds before the second Torres hit and the Hawks defenseman skated slowly to the bench before heading to the locker room early.
"I only saw it from the bench, but his reputation as of late speaks for itself," Hawks captain Jonathan Toews said. "He's not just going in there to make a play. He's trying to hurt one of our players. To us, that's pretty obvious."
Seabrook, who underwent preliminary concussion tests but wasn't sequestered in the quiet room, was more measured in his comments about Torres.
"He's a hard-nosed guy," Seabrook said. "He plays hard. He's been in trouble with the League before in doing the same kind of thing. I'm going to leave it at that and let the League take a look at it. Whatever they do is what we've got to deal with."