The San Jose Sharks were thrilled when they lifted Raffi Torres from the marketplace and helped pushed them from the netherworld of the Western Conference to a playoff berth, and were proportionally outraged when the National Hockey League removed him from their playoff roster.
And now, with a freshly blown ACL that removes him from the roster for between three and four months, he has become a near-hologram – a promising image that is only that.
[RELATED: Torres could miss 3-4 months with ACL injury]
Torres’ loss punches a hole in the Sharks’ day-to-day front nine, because his speed and combativeness gave them two things that have traditionally been in short supply on this roster. And while there will be some sentiment for the notion of karma given his rich disciplinary history, the National Hockey League’s stance on behavior is only as strict as Saturday’s exhibition game line brawl between the Toronto Maple Leafs and Buffalo Sabres, and the rich flow of suspensions from other exhibition rules breaking.
In other words, Torres is nobody’s outlier here. More importantly in the more regional sense, though, the Sharks needed his skill set to give them a second level of pace and his occasional crankiness to give them a second level of temper.
And let’s be honest here – the Sharks’ two greatest failings over the years have been speed and sternness. They have been outrun or outhit in every one of their playoff exits, and for a team that keeps trying to convince the continent that its window is not closing, a player like Torres is considerably more valuable than one would think at first blush.
Torres-like figures do not leap up on the market very often, which is why Doug Wilson was so excited to outbid three teams to get him last spring and so offended when he was suspended for his hit on Los Angeles’ Jarret Stoll in the playoffs.
Thus, they enter the new season with a hole in their firmament before they even get the chance to determine where their other holes might be. Thus, Sharks fans remain underinformed on the matter of Raffi Torres – better defined for them in absence than in presence.