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Coyotes ready to move on from Torres' suspension

by Jerry Brown /

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- One game away from winning their first playoff series in 25 years, the Phoenix Coyotes were intent on making sure the 25-game suspension given to forward Raffi Torres on Saturday would not affect their preparation.

Torres took to the ice after the team portion of the morning skate and took shots with his teammates, but had no comment. A statement from the player, through his agent, is expected later Saturday.

Phoenix coach Dave Tippett said the issue was addressed with the team before the morning skate prior to Game 5 and said the matter is now closed. Phoenix plays Chicago on Saturday night and holds a 3-1 lead in the series.

"The League has made its decision and there is nothing we can do about it now," he said. "We'll deal with it as a club and Raffi has to deal with it; but our focus is solely on what we have to do tonight. It's an unfortunate incident, but the League has had their say and we move on.

"Raffi isn't a player in the game for us tonight. He doesn't concern me today. We knew this decision was coming. It's not like it snuck up on us."

Torres was suspended for the hit he delivered to Marian Hossa in the first period of Game 3 on Tuesday. According to the League's Department of Player Safety, Torres left his feet, targeted the head of an opposing player and delivered the hit late. Those factors, along with the previous offenses committed by Torres, played into the suspension, which is one of the longest in League history.

Torres was suspended indefinitely after the hit and missed Game 4 on Thursday in Chicago, an overtime win by the Coyotes. He met with the Department of Player Safety at the League's office in New York City on Friday and the suspension was announced around 12 p.m. on Saturday.

"Raffi plays a hard, physical game yet this contact crossed the line on what is acceptable in our game today," Phoenix general manager Don Maloney said in a statement. "We hope Marian Hossa makes a full and speedy recovery as we all enjoy watching him perform. The club accepts the NHL's decision and will focus on our game tonight."

"My main concern is for the healthy recovery of Marian Hossa, and I hope that he will be able to get back on the ice to compete again soon," Torres said in a statement issues Saturday afternoon. "I sincerely regret injuring Marian. 


"Regarding the severity of the suspension issued, I will take the next few days to decide whether or not to appeal the decision."

Captain Shane Doan and alternate captain Keith Yandle also declined to give their reaction to the 25-game suspension.

"It doesn't serve any purpose," Doan said about commenting on the suspension.

Veteran defenseman Derek Morris said the Coyotes have had enough time to digest the Torres' ruling and it should not affect their preparation for their game Saturday night against Chicago.

"It's not a distraction. We know what we have to do," Morris said. "They are going to come hard and they are a real good team. We've respected them the whole way through the playoffs, we know it's going to be a close game and we'll just see where it falls."

But defenseman Rostislav Klesla admitted that such a serious suspension adds another element to his game, one that will enter his mindset on the ice.

"You want to protect players but it adds something to your thinking," Kelsla said. "When you have a guy lined up and you think 'Well I better not hit him or it's going to go the other way and it will cost me a few games' … it's going to be in your head."

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