Raffi Torres had played with the New York Islanders, Edmonton Oilers, Columbus Blue Jackets, Buffalo Sabres and Vancouver Canucks, before he signed a 2 year deal with the Phoenix Coyotes during the off season prior to the 2011-12 season. His gritty style, offensive skill and playoff experience made him a welcome addition to the team that had struggled to get out first round since coming to the Valley of the Sun.
Many people think of Torres as purely a goon, however he does have a fair amount of offensive talent. During the 2010-11 season he was 15-11-26 with one power play goal, and his best season saw him go 27-14-41 with the Edmonton Oilers in 2005-06.
Torres had more than a few disciplinary problems during his first season with the Coyotes. He received a $2,500 fine for hitting Jan Hejda during a game against the Colorado Avalanche and a two game suspension for hitting Minnesota's Nate Prosser. This eventually culminated in perhaps his most infamous hit, during the first round of the playoffs Torres hit Chicago's Marian Hossa which resulted in Torres being handed down a 25 game suspension, which was ultimately reduced to 21 games.
The suspension actually was a bit of a rallying cry for some Coyotes fans who considered it to be excessive. The "Free Raffi" face became a popular sight for the rest of the playoffs. While the Coyotes would go on to win the Blackhawks series and the semifinal series against the Nashville Predators, Torres' physical brand of play would likely have helped Phoenix in its Conference Final series against the Los Angeles Kings.
Last year as the trade deadline was approaching it appeared very unlikely that the Coyotes were going to make the playoffs making them sellers for the first time since Dave Tippett took over. Many Coyotes soon to be unrestricted free agents were traded, including Torres, who was dealt to the San Jose Sharks in exchange for a third round pick, which, interestingly enough, was orginally the Florida Panthers, before they traded it to the New York Rangers in a deal that involved another ex-Coyote, Wojtek Wolski. That pick made its way to San Jose in the Ryane Clowe deal, and eventually to Phoenix, who used to to draft Yan-Pavel Laplante.
Raffi vowed to change his game after the suspension, and for the most part he did; during last year's shortened season he had only 13 penalty minutes while on the Coyotes and 4 while on the Sharks. But the playoffs marked yet another frustrating chapter in his career. He was suspended again while with the Sharks for the remainder of the second round after a hit on LA's Jarrett Stoll.