Raffi Torres

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Raffi Torres
A Caucasian ice hockey player standing relaxed on the ice. He wears a white jersey with blue trim and a white helmet. He is looking forwards and holds his hockey stick with both hands across his torso.
Torres during his tenure with the Columbus Blue Jackets
Born (1981-10-08) October 8, 1981 (age 33)
Toronto, ON, CAN
Height 6 ft 0 in (183 cm)
Weight 215 lb (98 kg; 15 st 5 lb)
Position Left Wing
Shoots Left
NHL team
Former teams
San Jose Sharks
New York Islanders
Edmonton Oilers
Columbus Blue Jackets
Buffalo Sabres
Vancouver Canucks
Phoenix Coyotes
National team  Canada
NHL Draft 5th overall, 2000
New York Islanders
Playing career 2001–present

Raphael Torres (born October 8, 1981) is a Canadian professional ice hockey forward who currently plays for the San Jose Sharks of the National Hockey League (NHL). He was drafted by the New York Islanders fifth overall in the 2000 NHL Entry Draft. He has also played in the NHL for the Edmonton Oilers, Columbus Blue Jackets, Buffalo Sabres, Vancouver Canucks, and Phoenix Coyotes. Torres is known as a physical, forechecking forward with offensive capabilities.[1][2] He received the third-longest suspension in the history of the NHL for his hit to the head of Marian Hossa in Game 3 of the 2012 Western Conference Quarterfinals.[3] Prior to his hit on Hossa, Torres had previously been suspended or fined several times for similar hits to opponents' heads.

Torres was drafted out of the Ontario Hockey League (OHL), where he played three seasons with the Brampton Battalion. He was a two-time OHL Second Team All-Star during his junior career. Beginning in 2001–02, he turned professional with the Islanders' American Hockey League (AHL) affiliate. He spent the better part of two seasons in the AHL before the Islanders traded him to the Oilers in 2003. He played five seasons in Edmonton, becoming a full-time NHL player with the club. He recorded career numbers as an Oiler in 2005–06, while also helping them to the Stanley Cup Finals that year. In the 2008 off-season, he was dealt to the Blue Jackets, where he played the better part of two seasons. After a brief stint with the Sabres in 2009–10, he signed with the Canucks. After one year in Vancouver, he signed with the Phoenix Coyotes and then with the San Jose Sharks. Internationally, he represented Canada at the 2001 World Junior Championships, winning a bronze medal.

Playing career[edit]

Brampton Battalion[edit]

Torres played major junior with the Brampton Battalion of the Ontario Hockey League (OHL), beginning in 1998–99. He scored at a point-per-game pace in his rookie season with 35 goals and 62 points, second in team-scoring to Jason Spezza.[4] Improving to a team-leading 43 goals and 91 points in his second junior season,[5] he finished seventh in league scoring and was named to the OHL Second All-Star Team.[6][7] Qualifying for the playoffs, the Battalion were eliminated in the first round.[8] Torres added seven points in the six-game series.

Going into the 2000 NHL Entry Draft as a top prospect, Torres was selected in the first round, fifth overall, by the New York Islanders. The NHL Central Scouting Bureau described him as a disciplined player with good forechecking and overall offensive skills.[1] The Islanders had obtained the fifth overall pick used to acquire Torres from the Tampa Bay Lightning, in exchange for goaltender Kevin Weekes and defensive prospect Kristian Kudra.[1]

At the time of the draft, Islanders general manager Mike Milbury told reporters Torres' chances of immediately joining the NHL was questionable.[1] Following his first NHL training camp in New York, Torres was returned to Brampton in late-September.[9] Playing his third and final OHL season, he recorded 33 goals and 70 points over 55 games in 2000–01 to be named to the league's Second All-Star Team once more.[7] The Battalion advanced to the second round of the playoffs, where they were eliminated.[8] Torres had 11 points in eight post-season contests.

New York Islanders[edit]

Turning professional in 2001–02, Torres was assigned to the Islanders' American Hockey League (AHL) affiliate, the Bridgeport Sound Tigers, following his second NHL training camp.[7] Over the course of his professional rookie campaign, Torres was called up on four different occasions to the NHL.[7] He received his first call-up to New York on November 24, 2001, making his NHL debut that night against the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim.[10] Skating on the fourth line, he helped the Islanders to a 5–3 win.[10] He notched his first point during a separate call-up on January 4, 2002, assisting on a goal by Mark Parrish during a 4–2 win against the Pittsburgh Penguins.[11] It was his lone point with the Islanders over 15 NHL games that season.

Later that month, he was reassigned to Bridgeport for the remainder of the campaign.[7] He finished with 20 goals and 30 points over 55 games with the Sound Tigers. Torres became an integral part of Bridgeport's 2002 playoff run to the Calder Cup Finals, where the club lost in five games to the Chicago Wolves.[12] Over 20 post-season games, Torres ranked third in team-scoring with eight goals and 17 points.[13]

Torres began the 2002–03 season in Bridgeport for the second consecutive year. He received four call-ups to New York over the campaign,[7] recording five assists over 17 games. At the NHL trade deadline, he was traded by the Islanders to the Edmonton Oilers, along with forward Brad Isbister, in exchange for defenceman Janne Niinimaa, as well as second-round and fourth-round selections in the 2003 draft.[14]

Edmonton Oilers[edit]

A close-up view of a Caucasian ice hockey player's face. He wears a black helmet and is looking to the right.
Torres with the Oilers in 2006.

Following the trade, the Oilers assigned him to their AHL affiliate, the Hamilton Bulldogs,[7] where he played the final 11 games of the regular season. Between Bridgeport and Hamilton, Torres notched 18 goals and 40 points over 60 games in his second AHL campaign. For the second consecutive year, he appeared in the Calder Cup Finals and lost. He struggled in his second AHL playoff run, managing six goals and an assist over 23 post-season games, as the Bulldogs were defeated in the Finals by the Houston Aeros in seven games.[12] In the off-season, Torres was re-signed by the Oilers to a two-year contract on August 1, 2003.[7]

He began the 2003–04 season in the NHL, earning a roster spot with the Oilers. He scored his first NHL goal on October 9, 2003, against goaltender Evgeni Nabokov during a game against the San Jose Sharks.[15] During the campaign, Torres was chosen to represent the Western Conference at the 2004 NHL YoungStars Game.[7] The following month, he missed two contests due to an ankle injury.[7] He recovered to finish the season with 20 goals and 34 points over 80 games. During the 2004–05 NHL lockout, he played with the Edmonton Road Runners (the Oilers' new minor league affiliate) of the AHL and tied for the team-scoring lead with Tony Salmelainen, recording 46 points in 67 games.[16]

With the NHL set to resume play for the 2005–06 season, Torres re-signed with the Oilers to a two-year deal on August 16, 2005.[7] Returning to the Oilers, he scored a career-high 27 goals and 41 points. The Oilers entered the 2006 playoffs as the eighth and final seed in the Western Conference.[17] During the Western Conference Finals against the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim, Torres missed games two and three due to the flu.[7] Following his return the lineup, he scored the series-clinching goal in game five, a 2-1 win, to advance the Oilers into the 2006 Stanley Cup Finals.[18] Against the Carolina Hurricanes, the Oilers faced a 3–1 series deficit before forcing a game seven.[19] They were defeated in the deciding contest to lose the Stanley Cup.[19] Torres notched four goals and 11 points over 22 post-season games.

In 2006–07, Torres recorded 15 goals and 34 points. The Oilers did not, however, qualify for the playoffs.[20] In the off-season, they re-signed him to a three-year, $6.75 million deal.[2] The following season, he missed the last 49 games of the campaign to an anterior cruciate ligament injury.[7] Limited to 32 contests, he recorded 11 points.

Columbus and Buffalo[edit]

Torres was traded in the off-season to the Columbus Blue Jackets in exchange for forward Gilbert Brulé on July 1, 2008.[21] He missed 10 games to begin the 2008–09 campaign with a separated right shoulder.[7] A month later, on December 2, 2008, he underwent surgery for an injured knee and missed an additional 19 games.[7] With an injury-shortened season for the second consecutive year, he recorded 12 goals and 20 points over 51 games. In the 2009 playoffs, Torres added two assists as Columbus was swept in four games by the Detroit Red Wings.[22]

The following season, on March 3, 2010, Torres was traded to the Buffalo Sabres in exchange for defenceman Nathan Paetsch and a second-round draft pick.[23] He had recorded 19 goals and 31 points over 60 games with Columbus before the trade. In 14 games with Buffalo, he notched five assists. The Sabres entered the 2010 playoffs as the third seed in the Eastern Conference. They were eliminated in the first round by the Boston Bruins.[24] Torres' play struggled against the Bruins and he was benched for the final two games of the series.[25] He recorded two assists over four playoff games.

Vancouver Canucks[edit]

Leaving Buffalo as an unrestricted free agent, Torres signed a one-year, $1 million contract with the Vancouver Canucks on August 24, 2010.[26] He scored his first goal as a Canuck on October 13, in a 4–3 loss to the Anaheim Ducks.[27] The following month, he registered his first NHL career hat trick on November 2 during a game against the Edmonton Oilers.[28] It marked the first time in Oilers history that a former player scored a hat trick against the club.[29] The hat trick also helped Torres earn First Star of the Week honours as the best player in the NHL for the week ending November 7, 2010.[30] Beginning in January 2011, he underwent a 23-game goalless streak, snapped on February 19 in a game against the Dallas Stars.[31]

Later in the season, Torres was suspended four games for a hit to the head of Edmonton Oilers forward Jordan Eberle during a game on April 6, 2011. Canucks general manager Mike Gillis told media that he "strongly disagree[d] with it", while Torres argued that he did not stick out his elbow or leave his feet to make the hit and that Eberle raised his hand in defence of the oncoming check, indicating that it was not a blindside hit. Eberle was not injured on the play.[32] The suspension ended Torres' regular season as the Canucks had two games remaining. He finished with 14 goals and 29 points in 80 games. Returning for Game 3 of the opening playoff round against the Chicago Blackhawks, Torres received further scrutiny around the league for a hit on defenceman Brent Seabrook. Although he received a minor penalty on the play, Torres did not receive further suspension from the league.[33] Later in the game, Torres hit Seabrook a second time, taking the defenceman out of the next two games. Vancouver went on to win the series in seven games, before defeating the Nashville Predators and San Jose Sharks en route to the 2011 Stanley Cup Finals. In the opening game of the fourth round, Torres scored the game-winner against the Boston Bruins with 19 seconds remaining in regulation.[34] The Canucks eventually lost the series in seven games.

Phoenix and 21-game suspension[edit]

On July 1, 2011, Torres signed a two-year contract worth $3.5 million with the Phoenix Coyotes.[35] He recorded his first goal nearly a month into the 2011–12 season, in a 3–2 shootout loss to the Dallas Stars on October 25, 2011.[36] Torres continued to build a reputation for targeting opponents' heads.[37] He was fined $2,500 for striking Jan Hejda in the head with his forearm in a December 29, 2011, game against the Colorado Avalanche. Two nights later, he struck Minnesota's Nate Prosser in the head after jumping into a hit, earning a two-game suspension.[38]

In an April 17, 2012, game during Phoenix's first round playoff series against Chicago, Torres jumped into a hit that contacted Marian Hossa's head. Hossa was taken from the ice on a stretcher and sent to hospital by ambulance.[39] While Torres was not penalized on the play, the NHL characterized the hit as violating league rules on interference, charging and illegal contact to the head. Citing his previous history, league disciplinarian Brendan Shanahan suspended Torres for 25 games for the hit—tied for the second-longest suspension for an on-ice incident in modern NHL history—sidelining Torres for the rest of the playoffs.[40] The league reduced Torres' suspension to 21 games on appeal over the summer. Having already served 13 games during the Stanley Cup playoffs, the reduction meant Torres would miss the first 8 games of the 2012–13 NHL season, which he completed on February 1, 2013.[41]

San Jose Sharks[edit]

On April 3, 2013, Torres was traded to the San Jose Sharks for a third-round draft pick in the 2013 draft.[42] On April 16, 2013, Torres made his first shootout attempt in two years against the Los Angeles Kings to give the Sharks the 3-2 victory.[43] In Game One of the second round of the 2013 Stanley Cup playoffs against the Kings, Torres recorded a hit on Jarret Stoll, injuring him. The hit was an illegal check to the head, and Torres was a repeat offender; therefore, on May 16, the NHL suspended Torres for the remainder of the second round,[44] which the Sharks lost. On June 20, 2013 the Sharks announced that they had re-signed Torres to a three-year contract.[45] In the second 2013 preseason game against the Anaheim Ducks, Torres collided with Emerson Etem, causing Torres to injure his ACL, and was out until mid-February of the 2013–14 NHL season. Torres returned to the Sharks on February 27 against the Flyers.[46] Torres would record three points during the Sharks opening round seven game loss to the Los Angeles Kings in the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

International career[edit]

Medal record
Competitor for  Canada
Ice hockey
World Junior Championships
Bronze 2001 Russia

Torres represented Canada with the country's under-20 team at the 2001 World Junior Championships in Moscow. He scored three goals and five points over seven games as Canada won the bronze medal.[47] They lost the semi-final to Finland before defeating Sweden 2–1 in the consolation game.[47] Torres scored the game-winning goal against Sweden 37 seconds into overtime.[47]

Personal life[edit]

Torres was born in Toronto, Ontario, to Juan and Anna Torres.[48] His father emigrated from Mexico City with his family in the early 1970s,[48][49] while his mother is from Lima, Peru, and is of Greek, Italian, and Serbian ancestry.[50] Juan Torres worked several jobs to support his family, including car inspecting and assembly for General Motors, newspaper delivery for the Toronto Sun, construction and general contracting.[49] Anna Torres stayed at home until after Torres and his siblings grew up, at which point she became a personal trainer.[48][49] The two met in Toronto.[48] At one point, Torres' father became unemployed and the family applied to the Toronto Maple Leafs Foundation to financially support Torres' hockey career.[49] Torres is the second youngest among his three brothers.[49]

Torres is married to Gianna,[49] and they are residents of Whitchurch-Stouffville.[51]

On Halloween 2011, Torres' costume prompted criticism as he and his wife donned blackface dressed up as rapper Jay-Z[52] and Gianna as Beyoncé, which may be considered racist. However, others have said that his intention was harmless, as he is described as a big fan of Jay-Z, and was intending the costume as a tribute.[53][54]

Career statistics[edit]

Regular season and playoffs[edit]

Regular season Playoffs
Season Team League GP G A Pts PIM GP G A Pts PIM
1997–98 Thornhill Rattlers MTJHL 46 17 16 33 90
1998–99 Brampton Battalion OHL 62 35 27 62 32
1999–00 Brampton Battalion OHL 68 43 48 91 40 6 5 2 7 23
2000–01 Brampton Battalion OHL 55 33 37 70 76 8 7 4 11 19
2001–02 Bridgeport Sound Tigers AHL 59 20 10 30 45 20 8 9 17 26
2001–02 New York Islanders NHL 14 0 1 1 6
2002–03 Bridgeport Sound Tigers AHL 49 17 15 32 54
2002–03 New York Islanders NHL 17 0 5 5 10
2002–03 Hamilton Bulldogs AHL 11 1 7 8 14 23 6 1 7 29
2003–04 Edmonton Oilers NHL 80 20 14 34 65
2004–05 Edmonton Roadrunners AHL 67 21 25 46 165
2005–06 Edmonton Oilers NHL 82 27 14 41 50 22 4 7 11 16
2006–07 Edmonton Oilers NHL 82 15 19 34 88
2007–08 Edmonton Oilers NHL 32 5 6 11 36
2008–09 Columbus Blue Jackets NHL 51 12 8 20 23 4 0 2 2 2
2009–10 Columbus Blue Jackets NHL 60 19 12 31 32
2009–10 Buffalo Sabres NHL 14 0 5 5 2 4 0 2 2 12
2010–11 Vancouver Canucks NHL 80 14 15 29 78 23 3 4 7 28
2011–12 Phoenix Coyotes NHL 79 15 11 26 83 3 1 1 2 2
2012–13 Phoenix Coyotes NHL 28 5 7 12 13
2012–13 San Jose Sharks NHL 11 2 4 6 4 5 1 0 1 2
2013–14 San Jose Sharks NHL 5 3 2 5 7 7 2 1 3 18
NHL totals 635 137 123 260 497 68 11 17 28 80

International[edit]

Year Team Event Result GP G A Pts PIM
2001 Canada WJC 7 3 2 5 10
Junior totals 7 3 2 5 10

References[edit]

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  42. ^ Harrison, Doug (2013-04-03). "Scott Hannan, Raffi Torres head to Sharks". CBC Sports. Retrieved 2013-04-05. 
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  50. ^ "Raffi Torres: Latino power!". University of British Columbia. 2011-06-11. Retrieved 2012-10-07. 
  51. ^ Michael Hayakawa, "25 Games: NHL Suspendes Torres," Stouffville Sun-Tribune (www.YorkRegion.com), April 21, 2012.
  52. ^ "Raffi Torres Dons Blackface". Complex. 
  53. ^ "Raffi Torres Halloween Black Face Out Of Line? Not Necessarily". Complex. 
  54. ^ "COYOTES, AGENT DEFEND TORRES AFTER HALLOWEEN COSTUME PHOTO". Complex. 

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Rick DiPietro
New York Islanders first round pick
2000
Succeeded by
Sean Bergenheim