Ex-Penguins defenseman Robert Bortuzzo has evolved with the Blues

eight minutes in the past

This previous summer season, the populace of Thunder Bay, Ont., a delivery hub on the western shore of Lake Superior, was handled to its fourth go to by the Stanley Cup in simply over a decade.

And but once more, that occasion was doable as a result of a hometown child who was drafted and developed by the Penguins.

In 2009, Jordan Staal introduced the trophy residence after establishing himself on the Penguins’ third line.

In 2016 and 2017, Matt Murray did it by locking down the Penguins’ web.

In 2019 it was Robert Bortuzzo.

He simply occurred to do it with the St. Louis Blues.

A 3rd-round choose of the Penguins in 2007, Bortuzzo spent elements of the primary 4 years of his NHL profession as a bottom-pairing defenseman who by no means performed greater than 54 video games in a season in Pittsburgh.

Dealt to the Blues on the 2015 commerce deadline, he simply missed out on the success the Penguins loved as Stanley Cup champions in 2016 and 2017 earlier than serving to the Blues win the primary title in franchise historical past this previous spring.

It was a novel dynamic for Bortuzzo.

“I used to be completely happy for lots of the blokes I hung out with for a few years (in Pittsburgh),” Bortuzzo stated. “I couldn’t be happier for them. (Former ahead) Beau Bennett is one in every of my finest mates to this present day. Guys like (ahead Sidney Crosby and defenseman Kris Letang) that I spent plenty of years studying from.

“I’m not going to lie. It was powerful to not be there and to do it with these guys. Then, they did it in back-to-back (years), which was fairly unimaginable. Had some powerful days, however (finally) was completely happy for a ton of individuals over there that had a ton of affect on my profession and mates that I’ll have eternally.

“To lastly break by, there actually wasn’t an explainable feeling. I wasn’t actually fascinated with how I felt on the time of (not) successful it (with the Penguins). Simply to know what my good mates had been by … and to get that one out of the best way was fairly particular.”

Through the six seasons he has spent with the Blues, Bortuzzo has largely remained the identical participant he was with the Penguins. At 6-foot-Four and 216 kilos, he’s nonetheless a bodily imposing entity, however he suggests his sport has been refined with expertise.

“Everybody’s sport is elevating to alter with the instances,” Bortuzzo stated. “I’ve been in a position to try this. My skating is one thing I all the time have to sustain on and work on. I don’t know if the sport has completely advanced into that complete velocity sport, however you want be capable to sustain with these guys by way of defending and angles. I’m assured in my means to try this.

“These days, there’s no such factor as a stay-at-home defenseman. You could assist rushes and assist positions within the offensive zone. It’s possible you’ll not be capable to put up the numbers, however it’s good to transfer pucks ahead and thru the impartial zone. Puck play is a bit a part of my sport that has improved. That’s what’s allowed me to maintain up with the evolving sport.”

His adaptability famous, one will ever confuse Bobby Bortuzzo with Bobby Orr. A rough-and-tumble model continues to be Bortuzzo’s calling card. That was very obvious in an unpleasant sequence Nov. 23 when Bortuzzo cross-checked Predators ahead Viktor Arvidsson twice, with the second blow being significantly vicious. Arvidsson suffered an damage which is anticipated to sidelined him as much as six weeks whereas Bortuzzo was suspended 4 video games for the infraction.

Politely declining to debate the specifics of this suspension with the Tribune-Overview on Wednesday morning, Bortuzzo did acknowledge there are classes to be discovered from suspensions.

With the Penguins halfway by the 2014-15 season, he was suspended two video games for hitting former Penguins ahead Jaromir Jagr, then of the Devils, within the head.

That hit prompted former Devils coach Peter DeBoer to make a complicated however memorable reference to “Struggle Struggle IV” after the sport.

“Anytime you get suspended, it’s irritating,” Bortuzzo stated. “The league is doing (its) job. There’s not a lot you are able to do. You’re taking their info they provide, you attempt to make some changes to your sport going off what they’ve steered.”

Over time, Bortuzzo has made the mandatory changes to outlive within the NHL for almost decade. A lot of the muse of his sport was laid down early in his time with the Penguins.

“It’s simply grown,” Bortuzzo stated of his sport. “Somewhat extra accountability. It’s was extra of a management function. My precise sport, I believe my puck play has gotten higher. Simply total confidence is totally different in time period of realizing the place to be. … Situational play is strong. Penalty killing much more now. Actually relishing lots at that chance.

“I can’t say sufficient good issues about what Pittsburgh did for me in my early years. It formed me into plenty of what I’m right now with (former assistant coach) Todd Reirden. I had plenty of good coaches. I’m very grateful for that point.”

He’s additionally grateful to turn out to be the most recent Stanley Cup champion from Thunder Bay.

“It was electrical,” he stated. “There was a buzz within the air wherever you went within the playoffs. Our metropolis and followers may really feel that as effectively, that there was one thing particular about this run. They had been with us the entire method. You would simply really feel them champing on the bit for a championship on this sport.

“We’ve been knocking on the door right here for various years with good strong groups. To lastly break by for that metropolis, it’s very a lot an underrated hockey city for my part. The parade was insane. You would simply really feel every part dashing out over 50 years.”

Comply with the Penguins all season lengthy.

Seth Rorabaugh is a Tribune-Overview workers author. You’ll be able to contact Seth by electronic mail at [email protected] or through Twitter .

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