Chicago Blackhawks' Toews minces no words when asked about Bortuzzo's hit on Arvidsson

                                                                                                                                                                                                   
  • The St. Louis Blues' Robert Bortuzzo, left, returns to action tonight after serving a four-game suspension for a hit on Nashville forward Viktor Arvidsson on Nov. 23.

    The St. Louis Blues' Robert Bortuzzo, left, returns to action tonight after serving a four-game suspension for a hit on Nashville forward Viktor Arvidsson on Nov. 23. Associated Press/May 13, 2019

 
 
Updated 12/4/2019 11:45 AM

As one of the faces of the NHL, there are times that Jonathan Toews might choose his words carefully when addressing controversial topics.

That was not the case, however, when the Blackhawks' captain was asked what he thought about the cross-check that St. Louis Blues defenseman Robert Bortuzzo delivered to Nashville forward Viktor Arvidsson on Nov. 23.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

"I thought it was pretty horse (bleep)," Toews said of the hit that earned Bortuzzo a four-game suspension and knocked Arvidsson out for 4-6 weeks.

Bortuzzo, who returns to action Monday night to face the Blackhawks at the United Center, first hit an unprepared Arvidsson in the goal crease, forcing Arvidsson's head into the crossbar. After pleading his case to an official for a second, Bortuzzo delivered another crushing cross-check as Arvidsson was on his knees.

"Nothing against guys that play hard," Toews said. "That's why I love playing this team (the Blues) because they play us hard all the time. But to me (the NHL is) doing everything to get rid of head shots and get rid of head injuries, but that to me seems like an intent to injure.

"Just because it's not contact on a guy's head doesn't mean it's not just as severe. So I thought it was pretty bad."

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Told of Toews' "horse (bleep)" comment, Bortuzzo said: "I'd rather not comment. He has his opinion. He's entitled to that. I'm not going to reflect on other guys' opinions in quotes."

Bortuzzo, who also was suspended in 2014 for a high hit on Jaromir Jagr and in 2018 for an elbow to Washington's Michal Kempny during the 2018 preseason, has not reached out to Arvidsson. The 30-year-old defenseman did not appeal the suspension.

"You never want to see someone get hurt," said Bortuzzo, who was a third-round pick of Pittsburgh in 2007 and broke into the league with the Pittsburgh Penguins on Nov. 5, 2011. "I'm not a malicious player. I play on the edge, but again never looking for someone to get injured."

As for possibly changing the way he plays? Bortuzzo said that's possible.

"Any time you're suspended, you're going to reflect on why and take what they said in the (disciplinary) interview," Bortuzzo said. "I'm going to do that. I'm going to reflect on what they had to say."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Arvidsson has 6 goals in 22 games and racked up a career-best 34 goals last season.

Strome admits error:

Dylan Strome took part in morning skate Monday but did not play against the Blues at the United Center, the fourth straight game the forward missed with a concussion.

Strome believes he suffered the injury late in the Hawks' 4-2 loss to Tampa Bay on Nov. 21. Strome admitted he tried "to battle through" some headaches and played in the next game at Dallas on Nov. 23.

Still not feeling right, he told the training staff about the symptoms after the Hawks' morning skate on Nov. 26. He has since been in the concussion protocol.

Strome admitted he should have spoke up earlier, but he thought the headaches would go away.

"It was partially on me," Strome said. "Nobody's going to come up to you after every game and say, 'How are you doing?'

"I thought it was just a little headache and it was going to go away. It got worse. So I felt it was the right time to say something."

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