Raffi Torres’ time with the Vancouver Canucks is remembered fondly, even though he lasted just one year with the team.
But he says ownership wanted him back.
Now retired and coaching youth hockey in Ontario, Torres joined the Sekeres and Price Podcast to reflect on his time playing with the Canucks, which was one of the best one-year stints in franchise history.
Torres missed just two games in the 2010-11 regular season, scoring 14 goals and 15 assists in 80 regular season games. He added another three goals and four assists in 23 playoff games with the Canucks, including a memorable game-winner during the Stanley Cup Final.
Yet Torres left in free agency, signing a two-year contract with the Arizona Coyotes worth $1.75 million per season.
“We were at the owner’s house for the going away party… he’s got his arm around me, he’s got his arm around my wife, and he’s like, ‘we’re going to bring you back, we’re so pumped, what a great year you had,” Torres told hosts Matt Sekeres and Blake Price. “I lean to my wife and say, ‘a couple of years here, it’s going to be great.'”
Ultimately, Torres said his 23-game dry spell following a November hat trick against the Edmonton Oilers was what cost him his job with the Canucks.
The hat trick was the first of his career, and he enjoyed every minute of it.
“You can imagine the life I was living after that hat trick,” Torres said. “For the next two months, I rode the shit out of that thing.”
Malhotra was like a father figure for him
Playing on a line with Manny Malhotra and Jannik Hansen, Torres played an integral role in the Canucks’ ability to shut down the opposition. He developed a unique and tight-knit relationship with Malhotra.
“Me and Manny are the complete opposite. He’s like a professor. [He] was almost like a father to me at the rink.” Torres said. “On the road, he’d keep me in check… he got me on Sudoku, or the crossword puzzle… I was waking up every morning having breakfast and fruit with him. Like, really brought a lot of good tendencies to my life and to my game.”
Now an assistant coach with the Toronto Maple Leafs, Malhotra has taken his guidance to a larger group, but his impact over a decade ago is instilled in Torres’ everyday life.
“On that team, everybody knew their role, I’m sure you guys have all heard Juice’s locker room speech to the boys a few weeks back. It’s a hundred per cent correct. Everybody knew their role on that team. When you have something like that, and everybody’s willing to do what it takes, you can have a pretty special year like we did.”
An unlikely Game 1 hero
Torres’ claim to fame in Vancouver came with 20 seconds left in Game 1 of the 2011 Stanley Cup Final, when he scored the game-winning goal against Boston.
“He knew if I was going, he was going to find me some ice [time],” Torres said of then-head coach Alain Vigneault and the trust he had throughout the roster. “He looked up, he said I was going, and then it was a world-class play by [Ryan] Kesler to keep the puck onside… and good things happen when you go to the net.”
Torres says he has a photo of that moment framed in his bathroom.
“There were so many good, special times in that run… I don’t look back and say shoulda coulda, woulda,” he said.
“We did our best. We gave it everything we had… After the last series, I was a mess. I was mentally, physically beat down… but at the same time, I’m still extremely proud with the way we played.”
“It was a special two-month run with a lot of good guys.”