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Red Wings remain unconcerned about Todd Bertuzzi’s ‘baggage’

The New York Times’ Jeff Z. Klein spoke to both Red Wings forward Todd Bertuzzi and Wings GM Ken Holland about the team’s decision to sign Bertuzzi to a two-year extension recently, and while Bertuzzi offered little more than a shrug when he was asked about his lasting legacy as an NHL player…

“I don’t know,” Bertuzzi said. “I’ll answer that in two more years.”

Holland was willing to speak about Bertuzzi’s growth as a player and person some eight years removed from his attack on Steve Moore and the civil suit which will go to trial next fall:

“Todd, from my recollection, from what I saw, is not that type of a player that happened in that incident,” Detroit General Manager Ken Holland said. “I think that we all deserve a second chance.”

Holland admits to Klein that the Wings’ management sat down and questions whether they were willing to take on a player with as much baggage as Bertuzzi possesses the first time they acquired him back in 2007, but that wasn’t the case when Bertuzzi re-signed in 2009. In Detroit, he’s just “Bert”:

“We acquired him in ’07 at the deadline,” Holland said. “We were looking for some size. We had won one playoff round in three years. We thought we needed a little experience. Coming off back surgery, he hadn’t played much in Florida, so it was a bit of a gamble. But we went down the stretch and got to the final four that year. He gave us a physical presence.”
...
“Yeah, we talked about [his past] at a meeting,” he said. “Ultimately, we decided we were O.K. with it.”
...
“You hear rumblings about a player’s good and bad,” Holland said.

And now, as Bertuzzi completes what is his third full season and fourth year in Detroit?

“Ever since we’ve had him, for the most part, he’s been pretty popular in the locker room[,” Holland said. “]He’s been a good citizen. He’s trained hard. He’s in good shape. I think it’s been a good fit.”

Red Wings center Henrik Zetterberg said Bertuzzi “spreads joy around the room.”

The Wings aren’t ignoring or making excuses for Bertuzzi’s unconscionable ac—they’re simply stating that, in a locker room where one may park his past at the door, Bertuzzi’s been a hard-working, enthusiastic and pretty damn consistent leader on and off the ice, and that the Todd Bertuzzi they know as a two-time teammate and friend has come a long way from the Todd Bertuzzi they knew when he was a member of the Canucks.

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Comments

MsRedWinger's avatar

I was skeptical when the Wings first acquired Bert, but he has won me over completely. I believe in giving people second chances. This was a wonderful decision by the Wings’ brain trust.

Posted by MsRedWinger from Flori-duh on 03/03/12 at 05:51 PM ET

Crow's avatar

I never understood why he was crucified for that incident.  He was avenging the hit that Moore delivered to his captain.  Moore turns around during the challenge and he ends up falling on top of him.  It actually looked like the actual injury was a result of a fluke accident.  If C. Lemieux didn’t turtle to Mac and turned his back, it could have resulted in some other serious injury.  I’m glad the Wings took a shot at Bert and gave him another chance to revive his career.

Posted by Crow on 03/03/12 at 06:07 PM ET

George Malik's avatar

There’s no excuse for ending a man’s career. It’s not Moore’s “fault” for not engaging Bertuzzi.

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 03/03/12 at 06:26 PM ET

christpuncher's avatar

“There’s no excuse for ending a man’s career. It’s not Moore’s “fault” for not engaging Bertuzzi.”

I agree with that statement, but, like the previous posted, it does look like a freak accident. Probably not to this degree of severity, I’m sure we’ve all gotten ourselves in a position that we regret immensely. I feel that if people pay dues for mistakes, then it’s how they learn and grow from them that counts.

Bert will have to pay for that mistake in a civil settlement (rightfully so) as he took another mans ability to earn a living AND fulfill a dream, but all the bile and venom he gets from the press and fans has gone on a bit too long. I think he has proven that he isn’t a “monster”.

Great posts the last 24-36 hrs. George!!

Posted by christpuncher from Detroit, MI on 03/03/12 at 07:18 PM ET

George Malik's avatar

I don’t know how else to put this…I was raised by a probation officer who compiled pre-sentencing reports for convicted criminals by speaking to their families and friends before making his sentencing recommendations. I learned real early on in life that there are very few monsters, despite the fact that the most “normal” of people can do terrible, terrible things.

Whatever Bertuzzi did, regardless of how you perceive it, it was terrible, but it was a terrible, unconscionable act committed by a human being who will live with the weight of what he did, and obviously, the financial ramifications thereof, for the rest of his life, and he’s been able to move on.

It’s my hope that after a civil trial that’s taken a ridiculous seven years to commence and won’t be done for eight, Moore can move on with his life, too. As I’ve said, if I am ever to defend Bertuzzi’s side, I will do so in saying that he has and will pay his penance, and has earned the right to go on living, and it makes me very, very sad that Moore’s attorney, in hopes of hitting a $38 million home run, has forced a brilliant, articulate young man who should be living a rich and fulfilling life to spend the better part of a decade as a perpetual victim.

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 03/03/12 at 07:58 PM ET

OlderThanChelios's avatar

“Todd, from my recollection, from what I saw, is not that type of a player that happened in that incident,” Detroit General Manager Ken Holland said.

As I’ve said before, it’s statements like this, as well as the things that a number of Wings players have said, that makes Moore’s attorney’s decision to drag this thing out forever a huge mistake. A year or two after the icident, most of us would have joined in helping to lynch Bert. Today, very few people see him as the “evil monster” he was portrayed as back then.

Bert made a mistake in the heat of the moment, and it cost Moore his career. Moore’s attorney made a conscious decision that’s gong to cost his client millions of dollars. Which one is the “evil” one? I know which one I think it is.

Posted by OlderThanChelios from Grand Rapids, MI on 03/03/12 at 08:24 PM ET

HockeytownOverhaul's avatar

I love that “, for the most part”

Posted by HockeytownOverhaul on 03/03/12 at 08:33 PM ET

perfection's avatar

George, while you come off in this post as trying to defend Bert, you continue to use words like “unconscionable” which is just absurd. It was a complete fluke by any standard. I was going to cite the DMac/Lemieux incident but somebody already did because that, and literally a BILLION other violent, emotionally based hockey incidents could easily end someone’s career. He tried to beat up a guy who injured his star player… geez, how many times has that “unconscionable” act taken place in hockey history. To pretend it was more than that (like he brought a knife on the ice or something ACTUALLY unconscionable) is only perpetuating the notion that Bertuzzi is this monster. I realize that Moore’s career was in fact ended and Bertuzzi was in fact responsible… fine, he should suffer consequences, be it the large suspension and whatever financial windfall he suffers through the civil case. But to repeatedly call the same action that when done by Darren McCarty without accidentally hurting someone that bad is literally immortalized and sold in frames at Joe Louis souvenir stands, “unconscionable” is really just fanning the flames. What Bert did was sort of dirty… just like a chop to the ankle, a sucker punch in front of the net, an elbow to the head, or a purposeful boarding… all stuff that happens in hockey pretty regularly. The INJURY is what was a fluke. In this case, the giant pile of men fell wrong and a dude got hurt much worse than Bertuzzi intended. Hardly unconscionable. If he TRIED to end his career and succeeded then I could see that being an apt description.

Posted by perfection from LaLaLand on 03/03/12 at 08:36 PM ET

Avatar

Realistically McCarty going after Lemieux had all of the same characteristics:

1) Sucker punch. (Probably even worse than the Moore sucker punch.)
2) Unwilling fight participant.
3) Revenge for an injurious hit.

Lemieux didn’t have his career ended, but what if he did?  Would we as Red Wings’ fans be calling McCarty a monster?  Was McCarty unjustified in going after Lemieux?

The difference is the result of the incident.  It was tragic, but let’s not pretend that Bert had any more evil intentions than McCarty did.  Bert was trying to stick up for a teammate, and it all went wrong.  There may be no excuse for ending someone’s career, but I don’t think any Red Wings fan was lamenting the state of hockey while Claude Lemieux was turtled up on the ice.

Just trying to offer some perspective.

Posted by Chris from SF on 03/03/12 at 08:37 PM ET

perfection's avatar

thank you Chris. that’s exactly my sentiments. I couldn’t agree with you more. I’m not trying to “defend” Bertuzzi’s actions or “justify” them rather than put them in the proper context of hockey history. When people throw around rhetoric like “unconscionable” or even when Ken Holland himself says he’s “not that type of player” (what? a player that will defend his teammates? he sure still seems like “that type of player”).

there are a lot of borderline dirty hockey plays that happen night in and night out… some are celebrated, some are scorned, most don’t have such tragically fluky results… but everyone of them theoretically COULD.

again, it’s not about justification, it’s about context.

Posted by perfection from LaLaLand on 03/03/12 at 08:51 PM ET

Avatar

what? a player that will defend his teammates?

No, I think he meant a player who would skate up behind a guy, grab him by the back of the sweater, hammer him in the back of the head and jump on top of him as he goes down.

THAT type of player.

Posted by Garth on 03/04/12 at 01:48 AM ET

Avatar

Or a guy who’ll haul back on someone after the whistle is blown and beat him in a blind rage as he turtles on the ice. 

Regardless of the different outcomes, it was the same thing.  An effort to avenge a teammate. 

If you think McCarty beating Lemieux like that was justified, then Bertuzzi going after Moore was justified as well.  It just didn’t turn out so well for Bertuzzi.

Once again, this stuff happens all the time.  We shouldn’t condone it, but we also shouldn’t act like there isn’t a risk of something like this happening every day on the ice in the NHL.

Posted by Chris from SF on 03/04/12 at 02:21 AM ET

calquake's avatar

We shouldn’t condone it, but we also shouldn’t act like there isn’t a risk of something like this happening every day on the ice in the NHL.

Posted by Chris from SF on 03/04/12 at 12:21 AM ET

What you said.

Posted by calquake on 03/04/12 at 02:29 AM ET

Avatar

Looking at the replay of the shot Moore laid on Naslund, by today’s Shanahan standards, Moore would have been fined and suspended 5 games for delivering a blatant shot to the head.

For the refs to not even give Moore any type of penalty whatsoever fueled the fire.

I remember watching the game on TV. Third period, Vancouver getting their asses handed to them, even the announcers smelled something coming. There were already many fights and they knew it wasn’t over. It was one of those games that the officials lost control of.

Naturally, when it happened, they ran replays a bazillion times until Moore was removed from the ice ... and theres no doubt in my mind, Bert landed on Moore the way he did because Moore got knocked silly by the punch and fell, pulling Bertuzzi down with him.

Moore should have known something was coming, not because of the hit he put on Naslund but because Bert was shadowing him and chirping at him for most of the shift. Moore chose to ignore & skate away.

Moore was not the most talented player, and he was starting to get a bad reputation. If this incident hadn’t happened and Moore’s career continued, which players career would HE have ended with a cheap shot ??  For all we know Bert did everyone in the league a favor by taking this guy out.

Granted, that doesn’t justify Bert’s actions, not that he did anything wrong. He fell on a guy wrong that should have known something was coming.  For this crap to have gone on this long is a disservice to all involved (Moore, his family, Burtuzzi, the entire NHL, and its fans) and the sooner its over the better.

I’d imaging some peoples memories will be a little foggy about some of the ‘finer’ details of the incident and, in the end, no one will be happy with whatever decision is made. Its a no win situation for both Moore and Bertuzzi.

Posted by Hockeytown Wax from W.B. on 03/04/12 at 07:13 AM ET

IwoCPO's avatar

brilliant, articulate young man

You were talking about Steve Moore?

Posted by IwoCPO from Sunny San Diego, bitches on 03/04/12 at 09:20 AM ET

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About The Malik Report

The Malik Report is a destination for all things Red Wings-related. I offer biased, perhaps unprofessional-at-times and verbose coverage of my favorite team, their prospects and developmental affiliates. I've joined the Kukla's Korner family with five years of blogging under my belt, and I hope you'll find almost everything you need to follow your Red Wings at a place where all opinions are created equal and we're all friends, talking about hockey and the team we love to follow.