The Blues lost 8-0 on Friday night, but that’s not the only loss that they suffered. Defenseman Robert Bortuzzo was knocked out of the game due to this hit from Valeri Nichushkin:
From that angle, it appears that Nichushkin’s shoulder made contact with Bortuzzo’s head, knocking him into the glass and jostling his helmet. Bortuzzo skated two more shifts (one was about two seconds long) before leaving the game and not returning.
After the NHL’s Department of Player Safety held a hearing on Sammy Blais’ Wednesday night hit on Devon Toews (and the subsequent two game suspension for Blais), it was reasonable that a discussion would be held with Nichushkin. Blues coach Craig Berube expected it to happen.
A hearing was not held.
“After talking with the NHL, I was told they feel this play is within the rules,” Blues general manager Doug Armstrong told the Post-Dispatch on Saturday via text. “Each year you allow the league to set the guidelines and you play within the boundaries. We now know the boundaries for this type of hit.”
Take that quote however you will, but you can practically feel the irritation dripping from it. Inconsistencies in rule application is the DoPS’s bread and butter. If they want to eliminate dangerous hits to the head, they should penalize dangerous hits to the head.
The loss of Bortuzzo has necessitated some roster adjustments:
#stlblues announce roster moves:— Jeremy Rutherford (@jprutherford) January 17, 2021
- Bortuzzo (upper-body injury) on IR
- Mikkola recalled from taxi squad
- Walman, Neighbours added to taxi squad
Carl Gunnarsson should be getting his first start of the season Monday night against the San Jose Sharks.