Update, 4:30 PM Central: The NHL Department of Player Safety announced that Bortuzzo has been suspended for four games.
St. Louis’ Robert Bortuzzo has been suspended for four games for Cross-checking Nashville’s Viktor Arvidsson. https://t.co/zYPlLjudxl— NHL Player Safety (@NHLPlayerSafety) November 24, 2019
This is disappointing for many reasons, considering the history, severity and intent to injure. The fact that DOPS did not even consider suspending Bortuzzo for more than five games (as evidenced by their decision to make this a phone-only hearing) is yet another letdown from the Department of Player Safety.
Just when it seemed the Nashville Predators had finally broken the streak of bad performance and bad luck, the team will have to keep the ship on course without Viktor Arvidsson, who holds the franchise’s record for goals scored in a single season. The team announced Sunday that Arvidsson would miss four to six weeks with a lower-body injury sustained last night on a hit from Robert Bortuzzo.
As a result of the cross check taken during the first period of last night’s game, #Preds winger Viktor Arvidsson will miss 4-6 weeks with a lower-body injury. #NSHvsSTL pic.twitter.com/GY0Hlp9VTC— Nashville Predators (@PredsNHL) November 24, 2019
Arvidsson had an assist on the opening goal scored by Filip Forsberg last night in Nashville’s 4-2 win over the St. Louis Blues just 20 seconds into the game. With 13:52 remaining in the first period, Arvidsson was in the crease on the attack when he was cross-checked from behind by Robert Bortuzzo. Luckily, Arvidsson’s head and neck missed hitting the cross bar of the goal as he fell to ice behind Blues goaltender Jordan Binnington. After lying there for several seconds, Arvidsson attempted to get up when he was cross-checked again by Bortuzzo, once again falling to the ice.
The penalty was called but not before Arvidsson received yet another cross-check from Binnington (who would be whistled for roughing later in the game). Arvidsson left the game shortly after and did not return to the contest—one that got particularly nasty, with the Blues only being penalized on two other occasions.
Shortly after the game, head coach Peter Laviolette remarked to media that the hit was dirty, and the NHL Department of Player Safety (DOPS) agreed, scheduling a hearing on the hit for early Sunday afternoon. The hearing was scheduled to be conducted on the phone, which meant that the possible suspension would be for less than five games—a longer suspension can be handed out only when DOPS offers an in-person hearing to the offending party.
However, Bortuzzo’s history regarding hits like these would suggest that a longer penalty should be considered, especially given the nature of Arvidsson’s injuries.
With only one extra forward on the active roster—the recently healthy-scratched Kyle Turris—look for Nashville to call up a winger from the Milwaukee Admirals prior to Monday night’s home rematch against the Blues.