Thursday, December 29, 2016

Blues extend Bortuzzo for two years

Defenseman gets extension for $2.3 
million that keeps him in St. Louis through 2019

HAZELWOOD, Mo. -- The St. Louis Blues will keep Robert Bortuzzo in the fold for at least the near future after signing the defenseman to a two-year, $2.3 million contract extension on Thursday.

Bortuzzo's current contract, a two-year, $2.1 million contract signed in 2015, was set to expire at the end of this season. The new one runs through the 2018-19 season.
(file photo)
Blues defenseman Robert Bortuzzo signed a two-year extension Thursday
that keeps him in St. Louis through 2019. 

"He's been here, he's got a great character and guys are always pulling for him," Blues general manager Doug Armstrong said of Bortuzzo, who is currently on injured-reserve with a lower-body injury. "Somebody you can rely on to give you energy and he supports his teammates all the time. I think that's something that when you sign somebody, you know he's well-liked by his teammates and they're excited for him and that's certainly the case with Robert."

The 27-year-old Bortuzzo has one goal and one assist in 11 games with St. Louis this season. He has eight goals and 27 points in 177 NHL games.

The Blues acquired Bortuzzo from the Pittsburgh Penguins for defenseman Ian Cole on March 2, 2015 and finally started to get regular time in the Blues' lineup this season after being relegated to primarily being the seventh defensemen.

"We use the term loosely, but it means a lot for him; he's glue," Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said of Bortuzzo. "He's the glue to the team. He's able to get along with everybody, he brings an energy into the game. 

"When he first came here, he was more energy than good play and you loved him, but he had mistakes in his game. He's eliminated all those mistakes and now he's just flat a good player and our team, when he's playing, is playing really well. I think a big part of it is a combination of energy and good play. He's not afraid to play in any situation. He's a glue guy. His enthusiasm for his teammates really invigorates the locker room. When he's not here, there's a noticeable difference."

Bortuzzo has been limited to just the 11 games this season because of two separate stints on IR, both with lower-body injuries, but it's something the Blues aren't concerned with.

"Not really; they're (injuries) not because of a lack of training," Armstrong said. "They're sort of freak injuries. Those happen in the game. Obviously we know he's going to be healthy.

"He hasn't gotten the greatest opportunities since he's been here. We've been pretty flush on that right side, but when he goes in there, he gives us really good minutes. Before his injuries, he was starting to make a player that was difficult for the coach to take out and the game evolves obviously, but at the end of the day, he provides an element that all teams want to have for not only what he does on the ice, but just an unbelievable character off the ice. He's someone that sees the glass half full and someone that we're excited to have with us."

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