The Detroit Red Wings’ Todd Bertuzzi apologized to Ryan Johnson after elbowing the Chicago Blackhawks forward in the head and getting tossed from Monday’s 3-2 overtime loss.
Bertuzzi was called for a 5-minute elbowing penalty and a game misconduct after hitting Johnson in the head 5:17 into the game.
Johnson said Bertuzzi came to the Blackhawks dressing room to apologize, even though Johnson was able to return to the game after getting his ear stitched up.
"I knew it was a high hit, but I didn’t see it," Johnson said. "I didn’t think it was malicious or anything. He’s a pretty big guy and I skate pretty low to the ground.
"I knew I was going to take a hit on the play just to try to make the play, but I haven’t seen it. I’m not going to sit here and judge what it was.
"I know it wasn’t anything malicious, and he was very apologetic and came in here and said, ‘Sorry.’ That’s it."
Johnson went down to his knees and gloves for a while before slowly getting up. He went off the ice and toward the dressing room, but played later in the first period.
The NHL will take a look at the hit and decide whether further punishment is warranted for Bertuzzi.
Bertuzzi was ejected for a check that might’ve gone unpunished before the NHL started to crack down on such high hits.
"They’re trying to eliminate hits to the head," Wings coach Mike Babcock said. "I guess they felt his helmet came off, there must’ve been a hit to the head."
Matt Cooke of the Pittsburgh Penguins was suspended for the last 10 games of the regular season and the first round of the playoffs for elbowing defenseman Ryan McDonagh of the New York Rangers in the head last week.