The NHL Department of Player Safety was working quickly today. During the matinee match-up between the St. Louis Blues and New York Islanders, Blues defenseman Robert Bortuzzo was handed a double-minor for repeated cross-checks to the back of Isles forward Brock Nelson. (video) Not long after the end of the game, Player Safety announced that Bortuzzo would be fined $3,091.40, the maximum fine under the CBA.
While a seemingly random and not overwhelming amount, the fine is not without some effect. Bortuzzo’s salary for the 2017-18 season is just $1.15MM, which prorated to an 82-game schedule, is about $14K a night. Bortuzzo not only served his four minute penalty this afternoon, he also lost nearly a quarter of his game check. It’s not a major loss, but then again for a simple cross-checking penalty following an admittedly major hit from Nelson, it does send a message. The NHL is working toward cleaning up the game and even a small fine such as this may help to eliminate a violent, pointless penalty like Bortuzzo’s.
Nevertheless, St. Louis – and Bortuzzo – will take a fine over a suspension any day. With five starters already on the injured reserve, including defenseman Jay Bouwmeester, the Blues can ill afford another loss. Bortuzzo also saves that other 75% of his per game that he would otherwise lose with a one-game suspension for example. With that said, the bruising blue liner will have to watch his step for the remainder of the season; chances are Player Safety won’t be as nice to a repeat offender.