Long suspensions, not fighting, will put players like Raffi Torres in their place

Ken Campbell
Raffi Torres (Photo by Rocky Widner/Getty Images)

Make no mistake, the NHL created the Raffi Torres who drilled his shoulder into Jakob Silfverberg’s head over the weekend. It created this player by continually slapping him on the wrist for being the kind of predatorial player he became. It created this player by enveloping itself in a culture of violence and hate, and justified his behavior with ridiculous “hitting zones” and encouraged it with its “finishing his check” mentality.

In that respect, it definitely has blood on its hands here. The league’s department of player safety is being lauded, as it should, for handing down a 41-game suspension to Torres for his most recent transgression. It was a long time coming and few would have complained if it had even been more. Torres will lose the right to play the game he loves for half a season and will miss out on almost $441,000 in salary. (Shockingly, even though this is the fifth suspension of Torres’ career, he’s not considered a repeat offender.) It’s a steep price to pay to be sure, and maybe, just maybe, Torres will get the message this time.

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Todd Ewen’s family donates brain to Canadian concussion study

Ken Campbell
Todd Ewen (Photo by Mike DiGirolamo/Getty Images)

Family and friends will gather later today in St. Louis for a private funeral to celebrate the life of former NHL enforcer Todd Ewen. Some 800 miles away, Dr. Charles Tator is waiting for Ewen’s brain to arrive in hopes that it will provide some clues that will bring something positive from his suicide.

THN.com has learned that the Ewen family has agreed to donate Ewen’s brain to the Canadian Sports Concussion Research Project, where it will be examined for signs of possible brain degeneration or chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). It is an initiative spearheaded by Tator, which will now have the brains of 19 former athletes. Tator hopes to examine at least 50 brains of former athletes. The majority of the brains Tator has for his study are of former Canadian Football League players, but there are some hockey players, most notably Steve Montador, who died last February at the age of 35.

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Five things NHL and NHLPA could do, right now, to help prevent tragedies

Ken Campbell
Louie DeBrusk (left) and Todd Ewen (Photo by Glenn Cratty/Getty Images)

The fact that the NHL Players’ Association will put forth an initiative at some point this season aimed at helping former players deal with issues they face in the transition to retirement should be applauded. It sounds like it could be a terrific program that could help a good number of former players find their niche after they’ve devoted almost their whole lives to playing hockey.

But to suggest something like this would have helped Todd Ewen deal with the obvious troubles he faced before he killed himself this past weekend is kind of like thinking one would be able to close a gaping wound with a Band-Aid.

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Enforcers are dying…why isn’t the hockey world doing something about it?

Ken Campbell
Todd Ewen (Photo by Glenn Cratty /Allsport)

Nobody ever sees this kind of thing coming. Everyone is shocked. The hockey world collectively clucks its tongue and laments the terrible tragedy. And it almost always involves a player who dropped his gloves and fought for a living. After all, when was the last time a skilled forward was found dead far before his time under mysterious circumstances?

And so it goes with Todd Ewen, who joins the likes of John Kordic, Rick Rypien, Derek Boogaard, Wade Belak and Steve Montador in a club of which nobody wants to be a part, but one whose membership is growing fairly rapidly. Ewen, a former NHL enforcer for four teams, died this past weekend at the age of 49. Police in St. Louis County have confirmed that Ewen’s death is being investigated as a suicide.

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Police confirm death of former NHLer Todd Ewen was suicide

Ken Campbell
Todd Ewen (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)

THN has received official confirmation from the St. Louis County Police Department that former NHLer Todd Ewen’s death is being investigated as a suicide.

“(Ewen’s death) is being investigated and classified as a suicide and there are no signs of foul play,” Sergeant Brian Schellman, public information co-ordinator for the St. Louis County Police Department wrote in an email to thn.com. “A 100 percent call won’t be made until the medical examiner returns their report.

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A Toronto-Philadelphia rivalry primer for Drake and Meek Mill

Tie Domi (far left) and Donald Brashear  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

One of the biggest pop culture stories going around right now involves rappers Drake and Meek Mill, former friends turned enemies. The beef between the pair began over hurt feelings and escalated into several freestyle diss tracks…you don’t care about this. We’re The Hockey News. But since Drake used the Blue Jays’ World Series victory over the Phillies as ammo against Meek Mill (guess which two cities these guys are from?), I thought we should hockey this thing up, just in case the rappers need more material (and after hearing Meek Mill’s “Wanna Know,” they do).

Here’s a brief history of the bad blood between the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Philadelphia Flyers:

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Draft prospect Jakub Zboril played “like a pig” when he was growing up

Ryan Kennedy
Jakub Zboril at the draft combine (Photo by Bill Wippert/NHLI via Getty Images)

One of the most buzzed-about prospects at the draft combine in Buffalo was Saint John Sea Dogs defenseman Jakub Zboril, a Czech national who plays with an edge and can contribute at both ends of the rink. It’s looking like Zboril will go in the middle of the first round in Florida thanks to that combination of talents, but his physicality has made him far from a favorite amongst opponents.

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