Ice Hockey: Sharks’ Torres won’t appeal 41-game suspension, reports say

It seems like currently suspended San Jose Sharks forward Raffi Torres is accepting his punishment.

Canadian sports broadcaster Sportsnet are reporting that Torres will not be appealing his lengthy 41-game suspension for an illegal check to the head of Anaheim Ducks star Jakob Silfverberg.

Sportsnet’s report comes days after the National Hockey League (NHL)’s decision to hand the 33-year-old one of the longest suspensions in league history. They cited both the severity of the hit on Silfverberg and Torres’ length history of rule breaches.

However, there has been some speculation and thought that Torres would try to challenge his latest disciplinary ruling as he has a history of success when it comes to things like this.

In 2012, Torres successfully appealed a 25-game suspension for a headshot on Chicago Blackhawks forward Marian Hossa. As a result, he got his punishment reduced to 21 games.

He is also not considered to be a ‘repeat offender’ under the league’s current Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA), as his last suspension came in 2013.

However, part of that clean record is because he hasn’t played much. He’s been sidelined by injuries for the past two seasons and missed all of last year with knee problems.

Sportsnet reporter Elliotte Friedman investigated the ‘repeat offender’ thing in his latest column. He said: If you read the relevant sections of the CBA, the league takes the position that the repeat offender status is only applicable to fines. Repeaters are fined on a per-game basis, non-repeaters on a per-day basis. (The former is more expensive, because there are fewer games than days in an NHL season.) However, if you go to Section 18.2, among the factors taken into account are, “the status of the offender and, specifically, whether the Player has a history of being subject to Supplementary Discipline for On-Ice Conduct.”

So, in the NHL’s view, a player’s history is relevant, even if longer than 18 months ago.

If this report is accurate and Torres doesn’t appeal his suspension, he will be eligible for return on Jan 14, when the Sharks host the Edmonton Oilers at SAP Center.

Ice Hockey: San Jose Sharks’ Torres suspended 41 games for illegal check to the head

San Jose Sharks forward Raffi Torres will sit out the first half of the 2015/16 National Hockey League (NHL) season, the Department of Player Safety announced on Monday.

The 33-year-old has been suspended for 41 games following an interference call and an illegal hit to the head of Anaheim Ducks forward Jakob Silfverberg during the first period of a pre-season game at Honda Center on Saturday (October 3).

Torres caught the Swede off guard with a vicious elbow to the head. He was assessed a match penalty as a result – meaning he was ejected from the game and suspended for the next.

Silfverberg did not return to the ice after the play, having been left out for precautionary reasons.

Torres’ latest suspension is the most severe punishment from the NHL for on-ice discipline in almost eight years and is a move which is almost certain to catch the eye of players around the league.

It is also the second longest in the modern NHL era, behind a one-year suspension for Marty McSorley in 2000 when he hammered Donald Brashear, then a Vancouver Canuck, over the head with his stick and a lifetime ban for Boston’s Billy Coutu when he attacked a referee in 1927.

The last suspension of this severity handed down by the NHL was a 25 game suspension for New York Islanders forward Chris Simon for skate-stomping Pittsburgh’s Jarkko Ruutu in 2007.

Torres may appeal his latest suspension, his ninth for an illegal check to the head, to NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman. He previously appealed his 25-game suspension from a playoff game in April 2012, during which he illegally checked Chicago Blackhawks forward Marian Hossa in the head and as a result got his sentence reduced to 21 games. He served 13 of those in the playoffs before that sentence was reduced in the summer and then served another eight games at the beginning of the lockout-shortened 2012/13 season.

San Jose traded a third-round draft pick in order to acquire Torres on April 3 2013 and, in the beginning, his record wasn’t exactly clean. He earned another suspension for the remainder of the second round of the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs for a head shot on former Los Angeles Kings centre Jarret Stoll. He was then signed to a three-year contract extension.

Torres is now in the final year of that deal, earning $2.125million this season. However, under the terms of the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) and based on his average annual salary, he will forfeit $440,860.29, which will go to the Players’ Emergency Assistance Fund.

Speedway: British ace Tai Woffinden becomes the new World Speedway Champion

Team Great Britain star Tai Woffinden is back on top of the world after securing his second FIM Speedway World Championship title at the Marian Rose Motoarena in Torun, Poland on Saturday night.

25-year-old Woffinden now has an unassailable lead going into the final round of the season, the DON Smallgoods Australian FIM Speedway Grand Prix, at Melbourne’s Etihad Stadium on October 24, where he will also be presented with the World Championship trophy.

The 2015 Championship is Woffinden’s second world title in three seasons and the Scunthorpe-born racer becomes only the third Brit to win speedway’s biggest prize twice, following in the footsteps of both Freddie Williams and Peter Craven.

He also joins Swedish legend Tony Rickardsson, Aussie star Jason Crump, Danish racer Nicki Pedersen and American icon Greg Hancock in the elite band of riders who have won multiple titles since the World Championship series was established in 1995 and is the 16th multi-time world champion in speedway history.

Speedway: Three in a row for Poole as they win thrilling Elite League Grand Final

The Poole ‘Readypower’ Pirates have made history by winning their third Elite League title in as many seasons on Wednesday night  – becoming the first club in more than 40 years to do so.

It has been 43 years since the Pirates’ Grand Final opponents, the Belle Vue Aces achieved the treble and 2015 marks the 7th time that the Pirates have won the title.

It wasn’t all plain sailing for Poole though as they were made to sweat by a resilient Belle Vue team at Wimborne Road, before the dream of that third title became reality.

The Dorset club got off to the best possible start, banging in two consecutive 5-1s in the opening two heats, courtesy of Australian duo Davey Watt and Chris Holder, along with the fast track reserve pairing of Paul Starke and Kyle Newman.

Watt and his partner, Grand Prix star, Holder saw off both fellow countryman Max Fricke and Holder’s GP rival Matej Zagar, while Starke and Newman managed to fend off the challenge from opposite numbers Steve Worrall and Stefan Nielsen.

A 4-2 from Australian ace Dakota North and Pirates’ captain Maciej Janowski meant that there was a danger of the meeting becoming a no-contest, however, the Aces responded with three straight heat advantages of their own to stop the Pirates in their tracks.

Despite looking far from comfortable in his early rides, following a crash in the first leg of this meeting in Manchester on Monday night, Polish star Kacper Gomolski kept out of the gate in heat number eight and with reserve rider Kyle Newman providing excellent support, the Pirates were able extend their lead even more with a crucial 5-1 over the Aces pairing of Fricke and Worrall.

Heat number 10 saw an intense battle which was worthy of a Grand Final, between GP riders Janowski and Zagar, with the Pole coming out on top. That increased Belle Vue’s deficit to eight points, and it took a brilliant ride from Holder to deny an Aces 5-1 in the 11th race as the meeting remained delicately poised.

Newman then took victory in the second of the reserves races, however is partner Starke, who was on his second machine, couldn’t add to the Pirates tally.

Despite this, a dominant ride by his skipper Janowski in heat 13 held the Pirates’ advantage at six points, leaving them tantalisingly close to winning the title, but also leaving the chance for the Aces to win it themselves.

That was about to change in Heat 14 though, as Gomolski made an excellent gate to hold off a battling Josh Grajczonek. But tensions rose when North fell, however, he managed to get to his feet and clear the track in order to avoid the stoppage – an effort which was duly applauded by the huge crowd.

The applause continued to echo around the packed Wimborne Road circuit as the injured Gomolski stuck to his task of holing off former Pirate  to seal the most important of victories and realise the dream.

However, the Aces, inspired by the British pair of Craig Cook and Scott Nicholls, managed to close the meeting out with a consolation 5-1, and went home knowing that they had well and truly played a part in this thrilling title race after holding the Pirates to a 46-46 draw in the first leg at Kirkmanshulme Lane two days ago.

But, the Pirates managed to find that extra edge and consequently were the team that now find themselves celebrating long into the night after another fantastic title defence.

1st leg (28/09/2015): Belle Vue Aces 46-46 Poole Pirates
Rider scores…
Belle Vue Aces: Matej Zagar 14+1, Craig Cook 12, Scott Nicholls 8+1, Josh Grajczonek 5, Max Fricke 4+2, Steve Worrall 2, Stefan Nielsen 1

Poole Pirates: Chris Holder 10+1, Kyle Newman 9+2, Paul Starke 9+2, Dakota North 7, Davey Watt 5, Maciej Janowski 4+1, Kacper Gomolski 2+2

2nd leg (30/09/2015): Poole Pirates 46-44 Belle Vue Aces (Poole win 92-90 on aggregate)
Rider scores…
Poole Pirates: Chris Holder 4+1, Davey Watt 7, Dakota North 6, Kacper Gomolski 7, Maciej Janowski 11, Paul Starke 4+1, Kyle Newman 7+2

Belle Vue Aces: Matej Zagar 5+1, Max Fricke 4, Josh Grajczonek 5, Scott Nicholls 10+3, Craig Cook 13, Steve Worrall 3+1, Stefan Nielsen 4+1