SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) San Jose Sharks forward Raffi Torres was hit with the longest suspension in NHL history for a hit on another player when the league banned him Monday for the first 41 games of the season for an illegal check to the head of Anaheim's Jakob Silfverberg.
This marks the fifth and most significant suspension for Torres in his career. His previous longest ban had been a 21-game suspension - initially 25 games - for a high hit on Chicago's Marian Hossa in the first round of the playoffs in 2012 when he played with Phoenix.
Torres has until Wednesday to decide whether to appeal the suspension. The Sharks had no comment on the punishment and Torres' agent did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment.
Torres was suspended for the final six games of the playoffs in 2013 with San Jose for a hit to the head against Los Angeles' Jarret Stoll. Torres was also suspended for two games in January 2012 for charging Minnesota defenseman Nate Prosser, and he sat out four games in April 2011 for a hit to the head of Edmonton's Jordan Eberle while playing for Vancouver.
The previous longest suspension for player-on-player violence was a 30-game suspension to Chris Simon of the New York Islanders in December 2007 for stomping on the skate of Pittsburgh forward Jarkko Ruutu.
Boston's Billy Coutu received a lifetime ban in 1927 for assaulting two referees and starting a Stanley Cup bench-clearing brawl. The ban was dropped after 2 1/2 years but Coutu never played in the NHL again.
Torres' latest infraction resulted from a hit in a preseason game on Saturday in Anaheim. Torres was assessed a match penalty for the hit to Silverberg's head. Torres waived the right to an in-person hearing and was suspended Monday.
The NHL Department of Player Safety ruled that the hit was illegal because Silfverberg's head was the main point of contact, as well as late and would have been considered interference.
The Sharks had been counting on getting a boost from Torres this season after he played just 12 regular season and playoff games the past two seasons because of knee injuries.
But now they must go through the first half of the season without him. Torres will be eligible to return Jan. 14 against Edmonton.
Torres will forfeit $440,860 in salary for the suspension. The money goes to the Players' Emergency Assistance Fund.