Penguins

Who wore it best: No. 41, Robert Bortuzzo

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Welcome to our series on who wore each number best for the Penguins.

The idea is being openly borrowed from our new hockey writer, Cody Tucker, and his project at the Lansing State Journal covering all the uniform numbers worn through Michigan State football history, one that’s been well received by their readers and prompted heavy discussion and debate.

Under my organization, and following the voting of a big chunk of our staff, we’ll publish one new one each day until completion, which should be right around the start of training camp.

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Name: Robert Bortuzzo
Number: 41
Position: Defenseman
Born: March 18, 1989, in Thunder Bay, Ontario
Seasons with Penguins: 2011-15
Statistics with Penguins: 113 games, four goals, 16 assists, 17 fights in regular season; eight games, one assist in playoffs

[caption id="attachment_672919" align="aligncenter" width="640"] Robert Bortuzzo. -- USA TODAY[/caption]

WHY BORTUZZO?

The Penguins drafted Robert Bortuzzo in the third round, 78th overall, in the 2007 NHL Entry Draft.

Bortuzzo made his professional debut in 2009 with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, and played two full seasons in a Wilkes-Barre uniform. He made his NHL debut on Nov. 5, 2011, and split time between Pittsburgh and Wilkes-Barre over two seasons. His first NHL goal came on Feb. 2, 2013 against Martin Brodeur and the New Jersey Devils:

Bortuzzo finally became a full-time NHLer in the 2013-14 season, spending most of his Penguins career as a seventh defenseman. He was never one of the most skilled defensemen on the Penguins' blue line, but he earned his spot with his physical, shutdown play. Bortuzzo was one of the Penguins' most active fighters during his Penguins career, dropping the gloves 17 times.

He's no star, but he wore No. 41 better than any other Penguin.

WHAT'S HE DOING NOW?

[caption id="attachment_672915" align="aligncenter" width="640"] Robert Bortuzzo. -- AP PHOTO[/caption]

The Penguins traded Bortuzzo and a seventh-round pick to the St. Louis Blues on March 2, 2015 in exchange for Ian Cole.

Bortuzzo re-signed with St. Louis, and will be entering the last year of his current contract this season. Now 29, he still has the physical, third-pairing role that he did during his days in Pittsburgh.

Since joining St. Louis, Bortuzzo has played in 163 regular season games, and recorded eight goals and 14 assists. He's recorded one assist in 15 postseason games.

IT WAS SPOKEN

"He's gotten better with each game all year. Being in their face a lot. He's a big guy, he's physical, he was tough to play against" -- Sidney Crosby on Bortuzzo in 2014

"He's no fun to play against, at all." -- Lee Stempniak on Bortuzzo in 2014

HONORABLE MENTIONS AT NO. 41

Jocelyn Thibault

ANY DEBATE?

Not really. Thibault was never that great, eventually losing the starting job to Marc-Andre Fleury. It was a weak group. Maybe Daniel Sprong will take this one eventually.

Tomorrow: I have No. 42
Yesterday: Frank Pietrangelo

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