St. Louis Blues defenseman Robert Bortuzzo faced a disciplinary hearing with the NHL Department of Player Safety and the results are in. For elbowing Washington Capitals defenseman Michal Kempny, who remains sidelined, the league announced that they have suspended Bortuzzo for the Blues’ final two preseason games and one regular season game, the team’s season opener on October 4th against the division rival Winnipeg Jets.
Player Safety called Bortuzzo’s hit a blatant case of “elbowing”, describing the situation as the following: “Bortuzzo does not keep his arm close to his chest and deliver a full body check. Instead, he raises his arm up and away from his chest and his forearm and elbow are the only parts of his body to make meaningful contact with Kempny.” They go on to detail Bortuzzo’s previous record with suspensions and fines, acknowledging that he is not a first-time offender.
Curiously, the league did not really treat him as a repeat offender who intended to harm Kempny in this situation. Although it is a three-game suspension in total, the two preseason contests are meaningless. Essentially, Bortuzzo will lose just one real game and will forfeit $6,182.80 in salary, whereas Kempny may miss several games with an expected concussion. The decision isn’t as egregious as the recent mishandling of the Max Domi sucker punch case, but is another miss by the league when it comes to policing the game.