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Raffi Torres’ injury a game-changer for Sharks

If Raffi Torres had been a San Francisco Giant during the 2013 MLB season, he would have been Angel Pagan.

If he had been a 49er during the 2012 NFL season, he would have been Justin Smith.

Or if he had been an Oakland Raider, he would have been Darren McFadden.

Get the idea?

Each of these guys is a polarizing figure on his given team. And when they are absent — as Torres is about to be for the first few months of the 2013-2014 NHL season — their team’s dynamic and style has a tendency to chance. Sometimes even suffer.

The hope for the San Jose Sharks? That they won’t let Torres’ absence affect them negatively a second time around, like it did during the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

A current characteristic of the Bay Area sports world is that we are in an era when team chemistry is one of, if not the biggest keys for victory.

It’s an admirable trait, not relying solely on the talents of one or two individuals, but a whole core of characters to lead a team to wins.

The downfall of having such a tightly-woven band? When one guy, who sets an attitude and tone for that team goes down, whether it be from injury or disciplinary action, the ease of racking up wins goes along with him.

Such is a worry for the Bay’s hockey franchise.

The 31-year-old forward was a key ingredient in the Sharks playoff push last season. Now San Jose, who signed Torres to a three-year contract extension in the off-season, now could be without him until late February.

Sharks general manager Doug Wilson announced Thursday Torres had undergone surgery that morning to repair the torn ACL in his right knee.

With a three to five month recovery generally associated with such a procedure, Torres could potentially be out until some time after the Winter Olympics in Sochi.

That’s a good chunk of time that the Sharks will be without their hard-hitting winger.

The Sharks lost their bite when Torres was suspended in the second round of the playoffs this past season.

But Team Teal is a smart bunch: They already know that their style of play is affected in Torres’ absence. Perhaps that will ensure that they work extra hard not to lose that edge again.

Plus, being that the ACL injury occurred during the preseason, there are bodies available to fill Torres’ roster spot.

Young forwards such as Freddie Hamilton and Matt Nieto have been making a case for themselves during Sharks training camp and preseason games.

Whoever takes Raffi Torres’ spot will have a hard time making up for the lack of grit. But hopefully, this second time around, the Sharks can take the steps to have a successful run without him.

Follow @SFBay and @ChelenaGoldman on Twitter and at for full coverage of the San Jose Sharks.

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