The St. Louis Blues will be without defender Robert Bortuzzo for their next four games. The 30-year-old blue-liner was suspended four games by the NHL’s Department of Player Safety for cross-checking and injuring Nashville Predators’ forward Victor Arvidsson.
While the Blues will miss Bortuzzo for those four games, this was a very poor decision by the rearguard who also has a history of fines for cross-checking players in the past. Bortuzzo has played in 11 games this season and has recorded on assist in those contests.
As mentioned, Arvidsson was injured as a result of the cross-check and will miss the next four-to-six weeks as a result.
Below is the NHL’s video detailing the play and the suspension. Following the video, a transcript of the video can be found for those interested.
Transcript of NHL’s Video Explanation
Saturday night in St. Louis, Blue’s defenseman Robert Bortuzzo was penalized for cross-checking Predators’ forward Victor Arvidsson.
As the video shows, with the Predators on the power play, Arvidsson sets up in the high slot as Bortuzzo defends down low. The puck is moved to the top of the circle for a shot. Bortuzzo steps out to attempt to block the shot as Arvidsson moves to the net for a possible rebound.
With the puck on the far side of the net, Bortuzzo cross-checks Arvidsson in the back, knocking him to the ice and drawing a penalty. Bortuzzo looks to the official, then turns back towards Arvidsson, who is still on the ice, puts his hand back on his stick and delivers a sharp, forceful cross-check to Arvidsson’s back, causing an injury.
This is cross-checking.
It is important to note the differences between the cross-checks on this play. Bortuzzo was correctly assessed a minor penalty for the original cross-check on Arvidsson.
Players often battle for position in front of the net and it is not uncommon for a player to use his stick to attempt to move offensive players away from the net. With rare exceptions, these plays can usually be sufficiently penalized by the on-ice officials. Bortuzzo’s second cross-check, however, is not a hockey play.
Visibly frustrated, Bortuzzo turns, finds the still-prone Arvidsson and forcefully cross-checks him in a vulnerable area of his body.
This is a forceful cross-check delivered well away from the puck on a vulnerable opponent and for no other reason than frustration.
It is also important to note that Bortuzzo is a repeat offender under the terms of the CBA. While his most recent suspension was for elbowing, it is very relevant that Bortuzzo has already been fined twice in his career for cross-checking.
It is the combination of both the nature of the cross-check Bortuzzo delivers and his relevant history that causes this play to rise to the level of a suspension.
To summarize: this is cross-checking. Arvidsson suffered an injury on the play. Bortuzzo is classified as a repeat offender under the terms of the CBA. The Department of Player Safety has suspended Robert Bortuzzo for four games.
Brandon Share-Cohen has covered the NHL and various professional sports for seven years. Working with The Hockey Writers, Brandon works extensively on covering the Boston Bruins in addition to his role as the News Team Lead.