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New-version Torres returns after 21-game suspension

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SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Raffi Torres' game is based on force and fury, his hard-hitting style fuelling his teammates and inspiring fear in opponents.

But as he sat out for 21 games, the result of a suspension for hitting Chicago's Marian Hossa in last year's playoffs, the Phoenix Coyotes left-winger had to rethink the way he plays, find a way to retain his aggressiveness and remove some of the questionable hits that have gotten him in trouble in the past.

After hours of watching video with coach Dave Tippett, the new-version Torres gets his first live test when the Coyotes host the Dallas Stars on Saturday night.

"I'm excited -- it's been quite a long time," Torres said Thursday. "I just want to be out there helping the boys out."

Since he broke into the NHL with the New York Islanders in 2001, Torres' contributions have come from his combination of skill and physical presence.

Playing for six teams in his 11 NHL seasons, Torres has scored 25 points or more seven times -- his career high of 27 goals came in 2005-06 with Edmonton -- and at least as many body-crushing hits.

The problem for Torres is that some of his hits have led to a few suspensions and a reputation -- at least from some opponents -- as a borderline dirty player.

-- The Associated Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition February 1, 2013 C7

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