Blackhawks forward Marian Hossa is hit by Coyotes forward Raffi Torres during Game 3 of their NHL Western Conference quarterfinal series at the United Center in Chicago, Ill., April 17, 2012. (JIM YOUNG/Reuters)
If the Phoenix Coyotes make it to the Stanley Cup final, they won't have Raffi Torres around.
And after being slapped with a 25-game suspension by the NHL on Saturday, they won't have him around for the start of next season, either.
The Coyotes forward is paying a huge price for his vicious hit on Chicago Blackhawks forward Marian Hossa in Game 3 of their Western Conference quarterfinal.
Hossa, who had to be taken off the ice via stretcher, missed Game 4 in Chicago and did not travel with the team to Phoenix for Game 5 Saturday night.
The suspension will carry over into next season no matter how far the Coyotes go in the playoffs. Torres has also been banned from playing in pre-season contests until his 25-game sentence expires.
Because he has been classified as a repeat offender under the NHL's collective bargaining agreement, Torres will forfeit $21,341 per regular-season game he sits out. Players are not paid extra for post-season games.
By missing Game 4 of the series, which the Coyotes lead three games to one, Torres has already served one game of his suspension.
In announcing the ruling, NHL disciplinarian Brendan Shanahan said the severity of the fine was based on a number of factors in what he called a "vicious and dangerous act" that happened midway through the first period of Game 3.
"In addition to the fact that three separate NHL rules were violated with this one hit, two other factors were critical in determining the appropriate length of suspension," Shanahan said in his video announcing the suspension.
"First, this violent and dangerous hit caused a severe injury.
"Second, Torres not only is a repeat offender as defined by the CBA, his extensive supplemental discipline history consists mainly of acts very similar to this one -- including two this season."
Meanwhile, in Pittsburgh where the Penguins were preparing for Game 6 of their series against the Flyers tomorrow in Philadelphia, Penguins captain Sidney Crosby said the NHL clearly was penalizing Torres as much as the act itself.
"In Torres' case, he's done it a few times," Crosby said. "I think it's more sending a message to him than anything."
The Coyotes have no intent of appealing the rule.
"I want to thank Brendan Shanahan and his staff for their thorough review of this incident," general manager Don Maloney said in a statement. "The ruling is very severe for Raffi and our Hockey Club. Raffi plays a hard, physical game yet this contact crossed the line on what is acceptable in our game today. 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."