"When they apply that high-speed mass plus physical bulk and hard-shell equipment to an opponent's head, the results are near catastrophic. We saw that when Edmonton's Raffi Torres delivered his blow - by any hockey definition a "clean" check - to the head of Williams."
HNIC's Scott Morrison:
"Williams was emerging from the end boards, a few feet from the side of the Oilers goal, when Torres crunched with him a shoulder first check. Television replays showed Torres had built up a healthy head of steam, but stopped striding to avoid a charging penalty, then ran over Williams who appeared to be looking down at the puck."
"If you hit him in the head, too bad, there's no rule against it and, in fact, it's tacitly endorsed by the league and the hockey community."
In every single piece discussing the hit, the writer goes out of his/her way to mention that it was clean. To be fair, the Mackenzie quote is lacking context. Bob was speaking from the perspective of those defending the hit.
Now, here's an excerpt from pages 93 & 94 of the Official NHL Rulebook:
" - ChargingContrary to popular belief, you don't have to be airborne to get called for charging. There is no 3-stride guideline, either. Going strictly by the book, Torres could have been given a major and a game misconduct. The check was violent, and the violence resulted from the distance traveled. After that, it's up to the discretion of the referee.
43.1 Charging - A minor or major penalty shall be imposed on a player or goalkeeper who skates or jumps into, or charges an opponent in any manner.
Charging shall mean the actions of a player or goalkeeper who, as a result of distance traveled, shall violently check an opponent in any manner. A "charge" may be the result of a check into the boards, into the goal frame or in open ice.
43.2 Minor Penalty - The Referee, at his discretion, may assess a minor penalty, based on the degree of violence of the check, to a player or goalkeeper guilty of charging an opponent.
43.3 Major Penalty - The Referee, at his discretion, may assess a major penalty, based on the degree of violence of the check, to a player or goalkeeper guilty of charging an opponent (see 43.5).
43.4 Match Penalty - The Referee, at his discretion, may assess a match penalty if, in his judgement, the player or goalkeeper attempted to or deliberately injured his opponent by charging.
43.5 Game Misconduct Penalty - When a major penalty is imposed under this rule for a foul resulting in an injury to the face or head of an opponent, a game misconduct shall be imposed."
Which begs the question: If the Torres hit was not sufficiently violent to warrant a minor penalty, just how violent would a check have to be to warrant a major??
Some comments from Bobby Orr in the MacKenzie piece:
"Hey, I got hit a lot when I played and I didn't get hit in the head with checks. Players didn't always hit like that. To me, that's not part of bodychecking. I mean, don't you have to be responsible for your actions? If you hit a guy in the face with your stick by accident, you're going to get a penalty. Two minutes, four minutes, five minutes, something. If you go to bodycheck a guy and you hit him in the face or head, and injure him, that's legal? That's fair? That's not a penalty? I'm sorry, I don't think that is right. It should be a penalty."
It seems that the tools are already in place to crack down on hits like Raffi's. It's just a matter of whether there is the will.