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Tuesday, December 13, 2005

What's with Todd Bertuzzi?

It's a question Ed Willes from the Vancouver Province asked this weekend, and one that I think more people in the mainstream media should be paying attention to. It's quite late and I haven't a ton of time, but I did want to pass along the link for those who haven't yet had a read.

The talk is Bertuzzi and Canucks coach Mark Crawford aren't talking. The talk is the big winger requested a trade from the team at one point during his ordeal. The talk, in rumour circles at least, is that Canucks' rookie GM Dave Nonis may deal him for another scorer and/or goaltending help. From Willes:
The Canucks are now 29 games into their season and, clearly, something is wrong with Bertuzzi. It could be the ghosts of March 8. It could be the accumulated baggage from his years in Vancouver. It could be his naturally sunny disposition. Or it could be his relationship with Crawford.

But whatever it is, it's as obvious as an elephant in a wading pool and it raises the question, can the Canucks move forward with Bertuzzi in his current state?
The obvious answer is no, but I'm not sure the solution is so obvious. In any event, this is what everyone in B.C. is talking about at the moment, which makes one wonder if there's anything to the talk.

I wrote of Bertuzzi in the summer of 2004 (for a different on-line publication before I had the blog):
There was word this week that Bertuzzi and his wife, Julie, had put their West Vancouver home up for sale (valued at $2.48-million, in case you are in the market) and it set the Canucks' faithful buzzing. While the Bertuzzi's impending move remains only speculation, I'm prepared to venture out on a limb, cite unnamed sources and claim that if Todd Bertuzzi hasn't played his final game in a Canuck uniform, the end is near.

Long before the fateful night Bertuzzi meted out his own vigilante justice on Colorado Avalanche winger Steve Moore, the bullish power forward had a reputation, and it wasn't that of a saint. Bertuzzi has always had a tenuous relationship with the hockey-mad Vancouver media, and sometimes he has been justified in offering the cold shoulder. There was, if you recall, the incident where one local sports jockey made incendiary comments about the player's wife...

As his doormat emblazoned 'Go Away' suggests, Bertuzzi is a man who enjoys his privacy. He doesn't revel in the limelight, or even wear it with a begrudging respect like Canuck captain and good friend Markus Naslund. As even Bertuzzi himself would attest, he's simply a gifted athlete and not hockey's answer to altruism.

As Bertuzzi sits at his summer home in Ontario and mulls his options, continuing his career in Vancouver may not be his most preferable one. With a criminal trial underway and an impending civil suit looking more likely, there is a definite possibility he may decide to cut his losses. Wouldn't it be easier to get a fresh start in Miami, Dallas or Philadelphia where the scrutiny wouldn't be so fierce? If he's looking to once again fade into the background as a reluctant superstar, it's certainly not going to happen anytime soon in Vancouver.
Despite the fact a year and a half has passed, I think much of that still holds. While the glass-is-half-full crew will be quick to point out the Canucks are on top of the Northwest Division, it's also true Vancouver is 3-4 points from falling into 9th spot in the West. A prolonged slump may be all that's needed for Nonis to act — provided the above scuttlebutt has any truth to it, of course.

I do know this much: Bertuzzi, the way he's played since the end of the 2002-03 regular season, isn't worth the space he's taking up under the cap and isn't worth what Vancouver could likely get back in a trade. If I'm Nonis, I move him in the next few months.

Perhaps more later...


At 5:28 AM, Luke said...

As a Canucks fan, I've been following this Bertuzzi trade talk, but personally I think it's just talk, engendered by a vengeful media. Bertuzzi may not be 100% happy, but who would take him? Why would any team trade for a guy who:

- doesn't score consistently
- doesn't put out a good effort every night
- appears to be bad for morale
- is getting paid $5 million

Simply put, no team can afford him, and even if they can, it would be a big waste of money. The Canucks can't even afford him, given how close they are to the cap this season. Of course, all of these also apply to Sergei Fedorov and Brian Burke found a GM dumb enough to take him... but there's only one Columbus.

The Canucks would also be foolish to trade him right now. Common sense says you wait until a player appears worth having to trade him. Of course all bets are off if the team's record takes a dive, but I really don't think that's going to happen. As they proved against Ottawa the other night, they can win when they need to. That also applies more than anything to Bertuzzi -- he has shown up at key times -- and I think people are wrong when they think he doesn't care. He does care, and he has enough friends on the team that I think he's far from giving up on the team.

At 5:36 AM, Luke said...

One last thing... This interview [MP3] with Bertuzzi is one of the most open and honest-sounding hockey interviews I've ever heard. Listen to that and tell me that Bertuzzi doesn't sound sincere.

At 11:15 AM, alan said...

The Canucks are in at the Garden tonight visiting the first place Rangers (still have to get that in while I can), and the storyline in all the papers here is the matchup with Steve Moore's brother Dominic. The latter moved to left wing four games ago, so he could find himself matched up directly against his brother's assaulter. Dominic and the team are playing it all down as you might expect, and I wouldn't expect any fireworks, but it will be a bit bizarre nonetheless.

An interesting connection between Bertuzzi and the Rangers is that it was Todd's dad Larry who was the arbitrator who in 1992 ruled that the Flyers trade with the Nordiques (I miss their uniforms) for Eric Lindros was valid rather than the Rangers'. Neil Smith then traded for Messier instead, so I think it's fair to say that Todd Bertuzzi's dad is partly responsible for the Rangers winning the Cup in 1994.

And finally in this long-winded comment, it's always cool to see the Canucks in town; it naturally brings back fond memories, and it's too bad this will be a rare event in seasons to come. With Messier and Leetch gone, Trevor Linden will be the only remaining player from the 94 Finals that will be on the ice tonight.

At 11:37 AM, Matt said...

The Canucks are on top of the Northwest Division? You must be looking at some old standings. :)

At 1:00 PM, James Mirtle said...

Projected standings. I should have said so.

At 9:04 AM, alyosha mcbain said...

Matt, I think Alan was referring to the fact that the Rangers are currently in first place...we Rangers fans must enjoy our brief stay in the league's upper echelon.

Bertuzzi had a good game last night. He was booed pretty much every time he touched the puck but still had a goal. He also cuffed around Rangers' winger Ryan Hollweg after a big hit on Naslund. If he continues to play like he did last night he won't be going anywhere.

He is still one of the top offensive big men in the NHL, despite lingering emotional issues over his disgraceful pile driver on Steve Moore.


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