Devils right winger Jaromir Jagr played all 82 games for New Jersey last year. But he may be out of the lineup with a head injury suffered after a borderline check from Pens defenseman Robert Bortuzzo – who deserves to be suspended for clearly targeting Jagr’s head.
We all know that, at age 42, Devils right winger Jaromir Jagr is a marvel of nature – especially once it dawns on you that he was durable enough last season to play all 82 games for New Jersey. However, after a more-than-questionable hit from Penguins defenseman Robert Bortuzzo Tuesday night, Jagr may be sidelined – and Bortuzzo definitely ought to be, courtesy of the NHL’s Department of Player Safety.
The two players had been having some intense 1-on-1 battles leading up to the incident, which took place late in the second period at the Consol Energy Center in Pittsburgh. But it’s undeniable Bortuzzo’s hit was late, and that the Pens defender’s principal point of contact was his elbow meeting Jagr’s head:
The hit matches the description laid out in the NHL’s rule on illegal hits to the head: Bortuzzo’s right elbow flares up in a clear targeting of the head, and Jagr doesn’t put himself in any vulnerable position, as his head was up and watching the play develop after his pass.
One year ago this month, Bortuzzo’s right elbow did something to then Maple Leafs winger Jerry D’Amigo that was very similar to what it did to Jagr Tuesday:
Bortuzzo escaped punishment for that hit last time for what seems to be a reasonable explanation, but he shouldn’t this time. He could’ve avoided Jagr at any point, but didn’t. Jagr didn’t return to the game, but it shouldn’t matter how long he’s out of the lineup for. If the league is intent on sending a message to players that targeting the head is unacceptable, a suspension of a couple of games is in order.