Roberto Bortuzzo

NHL

Blues’ Bortuzzo suspended 4 games for cross-checking Arvidsson

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St. Louis Blues defenseman Robert Bortuzzo had a disciplinary hearing on Sunday for repeatedly cross-checking Nashville Predators forward Viktor Arvidsson in their most recent game.

The result of that hearing: A four-game suspension for Bortuzzo.

The Predators, meanwhile, announced that Arvidsson will miss the next four-to-six weeks as a result of the play, specifically pointing out that this play was the cause of the injury.

Bortuzzo will miss games against Nashville, Tampa Bay, Dallas and Pittsburgh and be eligible to return to the lineup on December 2 when the Blues visit the Chicago Blackhawks.

Here is a look at the NHL’s explanation for the suspension. This is Bortuzzo’s third suspension in his NHL career.

The concerning thing here is this is not the first time Bortuzzo has done something like this. Over the years he has developed quite a track record of similar incidents where he uses his stick in such a manner.

A couple of years ago he had a similarly violent attack on New York Islanders forward Brock Nelson (resulting in a fine but no suspension) that you can see here.

In last year’s playoffs against the Dallas Stars he took exception to what he considered to be repeated dives from Esa Lindell by giving him another high cross-check. You can see that here.

Although the circumstances were different, he also injured Pittsburgh Penguins forward Evgeni Malkin with a blatant cross-check away from the play and in front of the net. You can see that one here.

He also has an additional fine for another cross-checking incident involving Jordan Szwarz of the Boston Bruins late in the 2017-18 season (no video available).

When you add all of those incidents together, combined with the fact he has already been suspended two other times (once for interference; once for elbowing), as well as the fact Arvidsson is sidelined for a significant portion of the season, he is probably very fortunate that this suspension was only four games and not significantly longer.

MORE:
Arvidsson sidelined 4-6 weeks with lower-body injury
Arvidsson injury puts damper on much-needed Predators’ win

Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.

Report: Extension talks underway between Pens, Cole

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Penguins defenseman Ian Cole, a pending restricted free agent, has “officially” started contract extension talks with the club, according DK on Pittsburgh Sports sources.

Cole, 26, is a former first-round pick (18th overall, 2007) that came to Pittsburgh in the Roberto Bortuzzo-to-St. Louis trade at the deadline. The former Notre Dame product played well upon joining the Pens, scoring eight points in 20 regular season games while averaging just under 19 minutes a night.

In the playoffs, with Pittsburgh’s blueline decimated by injury, Cole scored two points in five games while averaging 23 minutes per night.

Getting Cole back in the mix is fairly important for the Pens. While they do have some good young d-men on the horizon — Derrick Pouliot and Olli Maatta most notably — veterans Paul Martin and Christian Ehrhoff will be UFAs on July 1, and could be playing elsewhere next season.

Armstrong: All Blues signings on hold ’til Tarasenko ‘taken care of’

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These are uncertain times in St. Louis.

With the future of head coach Ken Hitchcock up in the air, the club will now put all restricted and unrestricted free agents on the backburner in order to deal with this summer’s No. 1 priority — re-signing Russian sniper Vladimir Tarasenko.

“We are not going to be active in signing other players until we get him taken care of,” Blues GM Doug Armstrong said, per the Post-Dispatch. “If it means allowing players to go to free agency, if it means making players sweat it out on what their deal’s going to be, he’s the priority for us.

“I’d like to partner with him, I’d like to partner with Mike [Liut, Tarasenko’s agent]. If it happens in May, great. If it happens in June, great. If it happens in August, great. He’s the primary guy.”

To be fair, the Blues don’t have a ton of other decisions to make this summer. RFA goalie Jake Allen is No. 2 on the priority chart after Tarasenko, and the club has suggested it’d like to try and get something done with RFA d-man Roberto Bortuzzo.

As for UFAs, longtime Blue Barret Jackman’s future is in doubt. Armstrong said last week the club has “no answer” at the moment to questions about re-signing Jackman, which is obviously tied to Tarasenko. Trade deadline pickups Olli Jokinen, Marcel Goc and Zbynek Michalek would appear to be lower on the aforementioned priority chart.

Armstrong isn’t divulging much about the status of negotiations with Liut, but did reveal a few nuggets. One, there is zero chance No. 91 leaves via an offer sheet, with Armstrong saying it’ll be “easy” for the club to match whatever’s put forth. Armstrong also said the deal will be contingent upon next year’s salary cap, and that — in keeping with the deal struck last summer for forward Jaden Schwartz — Tarasenko will be hamstrung a bit by his RFA status (lest we forget Tarasenko just wrapped his entry-level deal, which paid a base salary of $900,000.)

“He’s going to be very well compensated on a second contract,” Armstrong explained. “But you make more money when you have more rights. He doesn’t have unrestricted free agency rights and that’s just the nature of the beast.

“That’s the business. He gets it, Mike gets it, I get it.”

Rutherford: ‘Our guys felt very strongly about reacquiring’ Lovejoy

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Of all the trades completed today, was there one that left fans angrier than the one that saw Pittsburgh trade 23-year-old defenseman Simon Després to Anaheim for 31-year-old blue-liner Ben Lovejoy?

If there was, we missed it. Based on the comments we got here at PHT, the majority of Penguins fans were positively irate with GM Jim Rutherford for trading away young Després. 

According to Rutherford, however, Lovejoy was a player that was highly coveted by those within the organization.

“He’s developed into a solid, consistent player,” he said. “Our guys felt very strongly about reacquiring this player.”

The Pens also acquired d-man Ian Cole, 26, from St. Louis, in return for 25-year-old defenseman Roberto Bortuzzo.

“When we looked at our defense, despite the fact that it’s played pretty well at this point, we were concerned about the experience,” Rutherford explained, per the club’s website. “We were looking to upgrade, add more of a veteran presence.

“We felt to have a good run in the playoffs we needed more experience and that’s why we made these two deals.”

The Pens certainly have experience back there now, with Lovejoy joining a blue-line corps that already included Kris Letang, Paul Martin, Christian Ehrhoff, and Rob Scuderi.

And to be fair to Rutherford, perhaps he felt giving up Després was worth the risk with youngsters Olli Maatta and Derrick Pouliot in the organization.

That being said, these deals will only increase the pressure on the Penguins to make a deep run in the playoffs. You can bet the fans will remember today if things don’t go well.

PHT’s 2015 NHL Trade Deadline Tracker

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Our running list of all the deals leading up to 3 p.m. ET on Monday, Mar. 2…

Monday, Mar. 2

To Boston: Zack Phillips
To Minnesota: Jared Knight

To Anaheim: Korbinian Holzer
To Toronto: Eric Brewer, 5th-round pick (’15) (link)

To Anaheim: James Wisniewski, 3rd-round pick (’15)
To Columbus: William Karlsson, Rene Bourque and 2nd-round pick (’15) (link)

To Boston: Max Talbot, Paul Carey
To Colorado: Jordan Caron, 6th-round pick (’16) (link)

To Vancouver: Sven Baertschi
To Calgary: 2nd-round pick (’15) (link)

To Anaheim: Simon Despres
To Pittsburgh: Ben Lovejoy (link)

To St. Louis: Olli Jokinen
To Toronto: Joakim Lindstrom, 6th-round pick (conditional, ’15) (link)

To Minnesota: Chris Stewart
To Buffalo: 2nd-round pick (’17) (link)

To Montreal: Torrey Mitchell
To Buffalo: Jack Nevins, 7th-round pick (’16) (link)

To Arizona Coyotes: David Leggio
To New York Islanders: Mark Louis (link)

To Minnesota: Jordan Leopold
To Columbus: Justin Falk, 5th-round pick (’15) (link)

To Vancouver: Cory Conacher
To New York Islanders: Dustin Jeffrey (link)

To St. Louis: Roberto Bortuzzo, 7th-round pick (’16)
To Pittsburgh: Ian Cole (link)

To San Jose: Karl Stollery
To Colorado: Freddie Hamilton (link)

To New York Islanders: Michal Neuvirth
To Buffal Sabres: Chad Johnson, 3rd-round pick (’16) (link)

To New York Islanders: Tyler Kennedy
To San Jose Sharks: 3rd-round pick (conditional, ’16) (link)

To Detroit: Marek Zidlicky
To New Jersey: 3rd-round pick (conditional, ’16) (link)

To San Jose: Ben Smith, 7th round pick (’17, conditional)
To Chicago: Andrew Desjardins (link)

To St. Louis: Zbynek Michalek, 3rd-round pick (conditional, ’15)
To Arizona: Maxim Letunov (link)

To Montreal: Brian Flynn
To Buffalo: 5th-round pick (’16) (link)

To Montreal: Jeff Petry
To Edmonton: 2nd-round pick (’15), 5th-round pick (conditional, ’15) (link)

To Tampa Bay: Braydon Coburn
To Philly: Radko Gudas, 1st-round pick (’15), 3rd-round pick (’15) (link)

To Boston: Brett Connolly
To Tampa Bay: 2nd-round pick (’15), 2nd round-pick (’16) (link)

Sunday, Mar. 1

To Detroit: Erik Cole, 3rd-round pick (conditional, ’15)
To Dallas: Mattias Janmark, Mattias Backman, 2nd-round pick (’15) (link)

To New York Rangers: James Sheppard
To San Jose: 4th-round pick (’16) (link)

To Winnipeg: Lee Stempniak
To New York Rangers: Carl Klingberg (link)

To New York Rangers: Keith Yandle, Chris Summers, 4th-round pick (’15)
To Arizona: John Moore, Anthony Duclair, 1st-round pick (conditional, ’16), 2nd-round pick (’15) (link)

To Washington: Curtis Glencross
To Calgary: 2nd-round pick (’15), 3rd-round pick (’15) (link)

Saturday, Feb. 28

To Chicago: Antoine Vermette
To Arizona: Klas Dahlbeck, 1st-round pick (’15) (link)

To Anaheim: Tomas Fleischmann
To Florida: Dany Heatley, 3rd-round pick (’15) (link)

To Washington: Tim Gleason
To Carolina: Jack Hillen, 4th-round pick (’15) (link)

Friday, Feb. 27

To Chicago: Kimmo Timonen
To Philly: 2nd-round pick (’15), 4th-round pick (conditional, ’16) (link)

Thursday, Feb. 26

To Columbus: David Clarkson
To Toronto: Nathan Horton (link)

To Florida: Jaromir Jagr
To New Jersey: 2nd-round pick (’15), 3rd-round pick (’16) (link)

To Toronto: T.J. Brennan
To Chicago: Spencer Abbott (link)

To St. Louis: Adam Cracknell
To Columbus: Future considerations (link)

Wednesday, Feb. 25

To Los Angeles: Andrej Sekera
To Carolina: Roland McKeown, 1st-round pick (conditional, ’15 or ’16) (link)

To Pittsburgh: Daniel Winnik
To Toronto: Zach Sill, 2nd-round pick (’16), 4th-round pick (’15) (link)

To Winnipeg: Jiri Tlusty
To Carolina: 3rd-round pick (’16), 6th-round pick (conditional, ’15) (link)

Tuesday, Feb. 24

To Minnesota: Sean Bergenheim, 7th-round pick (’16)
To Florida: 3rd-round pick (’16) (link)

To Anaheim: Jiri Sekac
To Montreal: Devante-Smith Pelly (link)

Sunday, Feb. 15

To Nashville: Cody Franson, Mike Santorelli
To Toronto: Olli Jokinen, Brendan Leipsic, 1st-round pick (’15) (link)

Wednesday, Feb. 11

To Dallas: Jhonas Enroth
To Buffalo: Anders Lindback, 3rd-round pick (conditional, ’16) (link)

To Buffalo: Evander Kane, Zach Bogosian, Jason Kasdorf
To Winnipeg: Tyler Myers, Drew Stafford, Joel Armia, Brendan Lemieux, 1st-round pick (’15) (link)