The St. Louis Blues are not off to the best start in 2021 in terms of personnel. They’ve lost one player to suspension and now, almost as quickly, lost another to injury.
Just a day after finding out that Valeri Nichushkin would not receive any punishment, neither fine nor suspension, for his hit on Robert Bortuzzo, we now know that Bortuzzo will not return for a bit. Bortuzzo was placed on the injured reserve list.
This throws a monkey wrench into the Blues defensive plans. As things stood, they had an even amount of right handed and left handed defenders.
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The injury to Bortuzzo is just salt in the wound of there being no investigation into the hit. Not all injuries should be punished, but when there was contact to the head and the Blues just had a player suspended for less, it touches a nerve.
Further complicating the issue is that the league’s player safety commission has had other instances they could have punished and have not. The suspension against the Blues seems like the weakest hit there was.
Bortuzzo is a 6’4 defender and was standing tall when the contact came. You can argue that it was the contact with the glass that caused his injury, but it’s a weak excuse.
The hit that suspended Sammy Blais was his shoulder cutting across the chin of his opponent. There was no ill intent and very little contact in the grand scheme of things.
Yet, the league seems to have no interest in dealing with hits that actually hurt people. Devon Toews only missed the amount of time it took to have the concussion protocol.
Staal missed the rest of that game. So, what exactly does the department for player safety really do?
They don’t seem too concerned with player safety.
From the Blues perspective, this means potential opportunity. Gunnarsson will probably shift to the starting lineup and Mikkola will be the next man up.
Blues draft pick Jake Neighbors and Jake Walman were added to the taxi squad. Since they were not playing, this will be the best solution for them since the AHL is not starting until February and nobody knows if or when the junior season would begin.
The situation is very frustrating, but expected. Bortuzzo looked woozy immediately after the hit, so the fact he is out is not shocking. The hope is that the league will even things out at some point, even if it’s a vain hope.