March 22, 2012
Todd Bertuzzi: Paid Too Big A Price
This is Todd Bertuzzi. I've always hated Todd Bertuzzi. There are not a lot of hockey players I can honestly say I hate, and none as much as Bertuzzi. And no, my dislike of Big Bert has nothing to do with Steve Moore.
For too many years Bertuzzi was, for me anyways, the epitome of a dumb hockey player.
Oh he had the potential to be the best player in the game. He had all the tools to make him the most unstoppable player of his generation. He had the size and strength to bull right through any defender. Making him far more dangerous was his unbelievable skating - he was blessed with speed and agility. Even more amazing was his ability to handle the puck while going through or speeding by the opposition. In his prime, he was one of the rarest packages hockey has ever seen.
But he lacked the hockey sense and the discipline to ever really fulfill his potential. Dumb decisions with the puck. Dumb penalties at the dumbest time, all too often nullifying a power play. He was undisciplined in that he took shifts too long. He would not stick with the team's game plan. He would play too individually. Nothing annoys me more than selfish hockey players.
This all happened long before the Steve Moore incident. This dates back to his junior days. My brief research on him as a prospect at that time told me that I knew I would not want anything to do with him on my team. Thank goodness the New York Islanders drafted him. I would not have to see much of him.
That all changed in 1998. Bertuzzi would be traded to my Canucks. Worse yet - he was traded for Trevor Linden, my hero and the epitome, in my mind, of everything a hockey player should be. And of a person. Yeah, Bertuzzi never had a chance with me.
The rest is history. Bertuzzi would form an inseparable alliance with Markus Naslund and led the Canucks to a new era of prosperity, though never in the playoffs. Their rivalry with Colorado overheated when Bertuzzi attacked Steve Moore. We all know what happened there.
Fast forward to today and my hatred has subsided. In fact, I feel sorry for him and even respect him.
I feel sorry for him because he has paid a significant price for his misdeeds in the Moore incident. It has cost him at least a million dollars, and he has had an 18 million dollar lawsuit hanging over his head for years now. He faced charges where he could have spent more than a year in jail. In a country where we allow child pedophiles like Graham James get away with molesting our children and serve as little as 6 months in prison, Bertuzzi has paid far too big a price.
What he did was wrong and he brought all on himself. But I have come to respect him in the sense that he has gone through all this hell and has emerged as a pretty nice player in Detroit. Albeit in a lesser role with lesser expectations. Credit Mike Babcock and his staff for helping to turn around Bertuzzi's career. Bertuzzi, perhaps the grumpiest player you will ever meet, seems to have found some peace as a Red Wing.
I'm happy for him.