Since the start of the 2013-14 campaign, Raffi Torres has played all of five NHL games. He missed almost the entire campaign with a knee injury, was forced to skip the entirety of the following season with continued knee issues and by the time he was finally able to return, he found himself in the AHL, still battling knee injuries.
That didn’t stop Torres, 35, from giving it one last try as the season approached. The veteran winger, a fifth-overall pick of the New York Islanders in 2000, signed a professional tryout agreement with the Carolina Hurricanes and attempted to make the team in camp. Days before the year began, though, Torres was released from his tryout deal and, subsequently, his career has come to a close.
“It’s never easy to stop doing what you love to do,” Torres told the Stouffville Sun-Tribune’s Michael Hayakawa. “I wanted to play one more year and when I went to Carolina I wanted to make sure I didn’t want to question myself. In the end I wanted to make sure if I could hold up or not.”
Torres told Hayakawa that he felt confident after a strong summer of training, but the quickness of the game was something he couldn’t be prepared for. Torres said that shortly after camp had begun, he realized his body wasn’t responding the way he had hoped. On Oct. 6, the Hurricanes released Torres, and now he’s done for good.
“When I look back, I had some great memories,” Torres told Hayakawa. “It was a lot of fun.”
Included in those memories, which span a 635-game NHL career, will be the 137 goals and 260 points Torres registered, which go along with another 11 goals and 28 points in 68 post-season games. He suited up for seven teams over the course of his career, including the Islanders, Edmonton Oilers, Columbus Blue Jackets, Buffalo Sabres, Vancouver Canucks, Phoenix Coyotes and San Jose Sharks.
Likely the most memorable span of Torres’ career will be the his run as a key contributor on the Oilers’ Western Conference champion squad in 2005-06. During that 22-game post-season run, Torres notched four goals and 11 points in 22 games while skating in the bottom six. Unfortunately for Torres, that run came up just one win short of a Stanley Cup, and he would again experience a game seven Stanley Cup final loss in 2010-11 as a member of the Canucks.
Despite anything he accomplished on-ice, though, Torres will likely be remembered by most fans for the on-ice actions that led to him being suspended for what’s nearly the equivalent of a full season.
All told, Torres missed 74 games between April 2011 and January 2016 due to suspension, and he was handed some of the most severe punishments of any player over that span. The most infamous of his two suspensions came as the result of two incidents which saw Torres deliver high hits.
The first, for which the NHL handed down a 25-game ban that was later reduced to 21 games, came during the 2011-12 post-season when he launched into a hit that resulted in Marian Hossa being stretchered off the ice. The second was a high hit on Ducks winger Jakob Silfverberg that came days before the start of the 2015-16 campaign, and Torres was handed a record 41-game suspension as a repeat offender.
It was after Torres returned from the 41-game suspension that his career seemed all but over. He was waived by the Sharks little more than two weeks later, and his season came to a close shortly thereafter due to yet another knee procedure.
Barring two preseason games with the Hurricanes, Torres has not suited up since, and it ended up being the knee injuries, not the suspensions, that effectively ended his career in the NHL.
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