Sunday night, Colorado Avalanche went into Detroit riding a 10-game points streak and lingering near the top of the Western Conference. They were able to extend the streak with a 2-0 win over the Red Wings, unfortunately the result is being overshadowed by disciplinary nonsense.
With the Avalanche leading 1-0 late in the third period, Matt Calvert was hit towards the Detroit bench by Matt Green. His stick was then grabbed by a couple of players sitting on the Red Wings’ bench. Calvert turned to pull it away but was attacked by the Detroit players. After a quick exchange Dylan Larkin, Tyler Bertuzzi and Michael Rasmussen, Calvert was the recipient of a bare-fisted upper cut from Bertuzzi, while he was being held by Larkin.
The play resulted in a scrum that brought back memories of the old Avalanche/Red Wings rivalry from a few decades ago.
Here is how the whole thing played out:
It’s hard to see at first, but when you slow the play down, you see Bertuzzi has dropped his glove and delivers an upper cut to the jaw of Calvert. Bertuzzi was clearly upset that Calvet was yanking at him with his stick, but if you’re dumb enough to grab a player’s stick while sitting on the bench, you have to assume he’s going to try to wrestle it away from you.
Here is a better look of the ugly punch:
Tyler Bertuzzi with a sucker punch to Matt Calvert from the Red Wings bench. pic.twitter.com/E9FGO1uoRe— Hockey Collective (@HKYCollective) December 3, 2018
That is worth of a suspension, plain and simple. It was a cheap shot that Bertuzzi is going to be unable to defend when he has a hearing with the DoPS.
The plays falls under the NHL’s Rule 46.8:
46.8 Fighting Off the Playing Surface - A misconduct or game misconduct penalty should be imposed on any player involved in fighting off the playing surface or with another player who is off the playing surface. These penalties are in addition to any other time penalties assessed, including the major penalty for fighting.
(thank you to Twitter user Nick Powell @nickus13 for pointing this out)
With all that said, there’s no point trying to predict what the NHL’s Department of Player Safety is going to do. There is little consistency to the discipline they hand out so at this point all we can do is wait and hope they make the right decision with Tyler Bertuzzi.
The Department of Player Safety has always been strong with precedent. If they have a direct comparison to draw on, it’s a lot more likely we will see a suspension.
Luckily, in this case there is precedent.
Almost exactly one year ago, Matthew Takchuk was suspended for spearing Maple Leafs forward Matt Martin from the bench. Tkachuk got one game for his actions, so we should expect at least that many for Tyler Bertuzzi.
This isn’t an isolated incident, Tyler Bertuzzi has a history of trying to hurt opponents. Back in 2015 when he was playing with the Grand Rapid Griffins in the AHL, Bertuzzi slew foot Kasperi Kapanen of the Toronto Marlies while the two were tangled up. Bertuzzi punched Kapanen in the face a few times and when the Marlies forward was unwilling to engage, he decided to throw him to the ice.
Bertuzzi was suspended two games by the AHL for his slew foot on Kapanen. Many -including a lot of Red Wings fans - thought he should have been given a stiffer sentence.
Last night’s sucker punch was incredibly dangerous, and if the NHL is legitimately concerned about the safety of their players, they will come down hard on Tyler Bertuzzi.
Maybe I’m being naive, but I’m working under the assumption that Bertuzzi will get suspended, it’s just a matter of deciding how many games he will miss. One game is likely, two games is a possibility, three to five is preferable.
Question for the comments: how many games do you think Bertuzzi deserves and how many do you think he’ll get?
**UPDATE: Tyler Bertuzzi is going to have a hearing with the DoPS
Detroit’s Tyler Bertuzzi will have a hearing today for roughing/unsportsmanlike conduct on Colorado’s Matt Calvert.— NHL Player Safety (@NHLPlayerSafety) December 3, 2018