I’m not going to defend it because, really, this play is not defensible.
Tyler Bertuzzi deserved what he got; this kind of play has no place in hockey.
The Detroit Red Wings forward was suspended two games for punching Colorado Avalanche forward Matt Calvert from the bench.
Detroit’s Tyler Bertuzzi has been suspended for two games for unsportsmanlike conduct/roughing on Colorado’s Matt Calvert. https://t.co/L2E2XHzDNW
— NHL Player Safety (@NHLPlayerSafety) December 3, 2018
If you’re on the bench, there’s no reason to mess with people who are on the ice. Just don’t do it.
You want to talk trash to somebody as he skates by your bench? Fine, go for it. But physically preventing someone from getting back into the play is just plain stupid.
Bertuzzi isn’t new to predatory plays, as he was suspended back in 2015 as a member of the Grand Rapids Griffins for slew-footing Kasperi Kapanen, then a member of the Toronto Marlies.
Tyler Bertuzzi with a disgusting slew-foot on Kasperi Kapanen during the Marlies/Griffins game in the AHL last night pic.twitter.com/4YsXn50Lw9
— Robert Söderlind (@HockeyWebCast) October 31, 2015
As if the slew-footing wasn’t bad enough, before the slew-foot, Bertuzzi continues to punch Kapanen in order to engage him in a fight, a fight Kapanen clearly is not at all interested in.
So while I completely understand the NHL Department of Player Safety’s decision to suspend Bertuzzi, what about the spear by Calvert?
Calvert clearly spears Bertuzzi after he attempts to pull his stick away from the Red Wings bench.
And the spear is what prompts Bertuzzi to take his glove off and throw an uppercut as Calvert is engaged with Dylan Larkin.
Not to say that Bertuzzi was justified in punching Calvert, but Calvert also isn’t justified in spearing Bertuzzi for holding onto his stick. What if Bertuzzi doesn’t punch Calvert? Are we talking about Calvert’s suspension or are we even talking about this incident?
Attacking a player on the bench is just as egregious as someone on the bench attacking a player on the ice.
I was disgusted when I saw Bertuzzi slew-foot Kapanen, and three years later with no major incidents, it appeared he had learned his lesson about stupid plays.
I’m almost certain Bertuzzi will tell the Detroit media the same thing Tuesday he said back in 2015: It was a heat-of-the-moment thing and he regrets doing it.
Bertuzzi certainly isn’t on the level of Brad Marchand, but the last thing he needs is to get a reputation similar to what his uncle had.