It's no secret that former Sharks foe Raffi Torres' reputation precedes him. His style of play has been described as bashing, dirty or downright filthy by the teams he has faced. When Sharks fans learned of his signing from the Phoenix Coyotes, the sentiment was no different. This guy is a menace, he's dangerous, he's nothing but trouble.
In April, the 6'0, 214 lb. left winger joined a team that was struggling to keep their heads above water in the regular season; a trip to the playoffs was just within their reach, but their sluggish and sloppy play was almost inevitably pushing them to the bottom of the standings.
Shortly after his arrival in San Jose, Torres' contributions to the Sharks' lineup was unmistakable. With only 11 games left in the regular season, he injected a much needed boost of speed, energy and drive (not to mention the aforementioned big-hit style of play) to the floundering Sharks. He slowly won the skeptical Sharks fans over; who would have thought you would hear a chant of "Raffi, Raffi" at the Shark Tank?!
After a stint of clean but aggressive play, Torres' physicality came back to haunt him in the second round of playoffs. He was suspended for a questionable hit on Los Angeles' King Jarret Stoll that resulted in the King's center being sidelined for six games with a concussion. Frighteningly, Stoll suffered a seizure in July that Kings pundits attributed to the Torres' hit, though doctors treating Stoll said the incident was unrelated.
Raffi faced the media on Wednesday and answered the inevitable questions about his reputation and what changes, if any, he plans to make this season.
"There's no doubt that everything I do out there is going to be magnified…My past isn't on my side." Torres later added," I'm definitely going to focus on what I've been working on and talking about with the coaches — stick-on-puck first and then kind of rubbing the guy out instead of going for the big hit and then lifting the puck."
Torres stressed that he has been working on moving his feet more, improving his puck skills and is learning that the big hits don't need to be his first option. Quelling the worry that he will be soft this season, Torres was sure to add that he won't shy away from the bit hit if it's necessary. When a reporter asked if his reputation is a positive or a negative, Torres said he hopes that his reputation will mess with opposing players heads, and will give him an advantage on the ice to use his newly-honed puck handling skills.
Friday's preseason game may be the first time Sharks fans will get a look at the new Torres. Sharks take on the Anaheim Ducks at the SAP Center in San Jose.
Check out his Raffi's interview on Sharks.com
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