Reason hard to believe

ROBERT TYCHKOWSKI -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 8:24 AM ET

Raffi Torres still finds it hard to believe.

All of the Edmonton Oilers do.

He goes three full seasons without so much as missing a period, surviving 215 straight games of fast and rambunctious, if not always productive, hockey.

And now he's out for the rest of the season after an innocent-looking bump that barely knocked him off balance.

"Seeing the replay, it didn't look like anything," said friend and occasional linemate Jarret Stoll.

"He thought he hit a rut on the ice and tweaked it. Stupid play. They usually are."

Nobody's exactly sure what happened, other than his leg locked up just as it caught in a rut, at the same moment he bumped with a Detroit player.

The timing had to be perfect, and after three years of skating with a guardian angel on his shoulder, a micro-second's worth of bad luck tore his ACL.

"It was a simple play," Torres said yesterday, moments after the Oilers announced he'll be having season-ending surgery later this week.

"I was just dumping in the puck, pretty much a meaningless (play). My skate was just in an awkward spot, in a rut or something ..."

The really strange part is that Torres had only been back in the lineup for three games since his ironman streak ended with a healthy scratch in Dallas.

He plays 215 in a row and nothing happens. He sits out once, and three games later he's done for the year.

"It's tough. I've had a lot of trouble sleeping lately and I don't think it's going to get easier," he said.

"It's already been extremely tough watching games, wanting to be in there and helping these guys out.

"I'm going to have to learn how to deal with this, get mentally stronger. I'm just going to have to stay positive and upbeat.

"It's going to be a long road to when I get back on the ice again, but I think I'll be able to overcome it."

Meanwhile, the mirroring of Stoll and Torres continues. They hang out together, they often play on the same line, they slumped together, they were healthy scratches together and even this rings eerily familiar to last season, when Stoll had his 148-game ironman streak snapped in January with a season-ending concussion.

"He's going to go bananas," said Stoll, who went stir-crazy himself. "He's going to have to find a hobby. When you're out that long you have to find something to do. For him it's going to be a tough couple of months of rehab, but if there's any time (to have surgery) I guess it's now. He'll be ready to start the season next year instead of having it linger."

Torres did spend the last three weeks holding out for an off chance he could still salvage some of the season.

"There was a small window there that if it settled down and we braced it up, if he didn't have a lot of pain he could have probably played," said MacTavish.

"The medical staff said it was a long shot but there was no real downside to taking the time, because he would have been done for the season regardless, whether (surgery) was now or three weeks ago."

But when he took the knee out for a spin a few days ago, he knew instantly that he was done.

"Once I started pushing, I knew right away that I couldn't do it. I skated hard to the red line, like I would in a game, and (it gave out). Later that day it was bugging me for the rest of the day, a throbbing pain. I knew I just had to get it over with."


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