SAN JOSE, CA _ Sharks forward Raffi Torres has been suspended for a charity barbecue this Memorial Day weekend after an illegal check to the head, the NHL announced today.
The charity suspension is the first for Torres, who has been suspended four times by the league for infractions during games. Torres will not lose any salary but he will be absent from this Sunday's Bay Area Prosthetics for Pets Celebrity Barbecue and Fundraiser.
The hit that caused the Memorial Day suspension occurred during an organizational meeting for the barbecue. With time winding down on the meeting, Torres caught former San Francisco 49er Merton Hanks with an elbow to the head as Hanks was pouring himself a cup of coffee. Hanks appeared dazed and in extreme discomfort as he lay on the floor covered in lukewarm coffee. Torres was ejected immediately from the meeting, while Hanks was helped off the floor and given some Tylenol as a precautionary measure.
The Sharks are not expected to appeal the suspension, but general manager Doug Wilson issued a statement vehemently disagreeing with the decision. Wilson insists that Torres was simply reaching for a donut over the shoulder of ex-Golden State Warrior Tim Hardaway, another member of the charity's celebrity board, when his shoulder inadvertently grazed Hanks' head. For Wilson's outspoken comments, the NHL also decided to fine the Sharks 300 hamburger buns, to be delivered to the barbecue no later than noon on Sunday.
Torres has a history of questionable actions at community events throughout his NHL career. Last season as a member of the Phoenix Coyotes, Torres was disqualified from one of Alice Cooper's charity golf tournaments for parking his golf cart directly over a rival player's ball in the middle of the fairway. In 2007 while playing for Edmonton, Torres was ejected from a Select-A-Seat event for new season ticket holders after allegedly throwing two teenagers down a flight of stairs at Rexall Place.
The Bay Area Prosthetics for Pets Barbecue is an annual event featuring a host of actors, athletes and musicians raising money for the research and distribution of artificial limbs for animals ranging from hamsters to miniature horses. All of the teams from the Oakland/San Francisco/San Jose area send players and Torres was expected to be the Sharks' representative. His replacement has yet to be named.
"They'll probably send that Swedish guy, Raga, Ragu...Ragamuffin... something like that, man," said rocker Sammy Hagar, the charity's founder and the barbecue's chief organizer. "The Q's gonna go on no matter what some dickhead does, man. Not gonna harsh this buzz.
"We got some killer grub from Guy Fieri, some Cabo Wabo tequilla, a little music, some girls, Rickey Henderson's gonna be there, it's all good. If Raffi promises to chill out, we'll fix him a plate of leftovers he can eat the next day."
This is a parody. But is it really that far-fetched to see Torres (or Sammy Hagar) doing any of this?
BTW: Did you know that Merton Hanks is basically the NFL's Brendan Shanahan? I had no idea.