There will be no hearing by the NHL Department of Player Safety for the hit by Colorado’s Valeri Nichushkin that knocked Blues defenseman Robert Bortuzzo out of Friday’s game — an 8-0 loss by St. Louis.
“After talking with the NHL, I was told they feel this play is within the rules,” Blues general manager Doug Armstrong told the Post-Dispatch on Saturday via text. “Each year you allow the league to set the guidelines and you play within the boundaries. We now know the boundaries for this type of hit.”
On his first shift of the game, Bortuzzo was retrieving the puck behind the St. Louis net when Nichushkin struck Bortuzzo from behind, leaning in with his left shoulder. The shoulder appeared to strike Bortuzzo in the head, at least from one replay angle.
In any event, Bortuzzo’s head slammed into the glass, and he appeared woozy. Bortuzzo finished off the final eight seconds of the shift, and played two subsequent shifts. But the third shift lasted only two seconds.
Bortuzzo was done for the night less than four minutes into the contest with what the team called an upper-body injury. If it’s a concussion, Bortuzzo probably won’t play in Monday’s home opener against San Jose, which would mean Carl Gunnarsson makes his season debut.
Meanwhile, Sammy Blais will serve the second game of a two-game suspension for what the league deemed an illegal check to the head of Avalanche defenseman Devon Toews in Wednesday’s contest. The hit on Bortuzzo looked more violent than Blais’ hit on Toews.