Canucks and Beyond

Getting a Handle on Things

11/26/2007 at 5:55pm EST

With Todd Bertuzzi playing in Vancouver for the first time since he left the team, the game tomorrow night is far less about Vancouver being tested by the reigning Stanley Cup Champion Anaheim Ducks, and far more about the return of the big guy.

Bertuzzi himself knows it’s a big deal as well. From the Vancouver Province:

“There’s no question it’s going to be weird for me, because I’ve never played against all the guys at once. Of course I did when I was (with the New York Islanders), but the team was so different and it’s so long ago it’s hard to remember and I don’t recall what it was like. So there’s no doubt it’s going to be different, hard to handle in some ways.”

I suspect that on the whole, Bertuzzi will be well-received by the crowd. There’s a lot of history for him in this city, but just as importantly, there’s a lot of history for Canucks fans with him, too.

A mixture of such highs and lows, Bertuzzi was memorably part of one of the most exciting lines to play for Vancouver in a decade; and then he was also responsible for the infamous Steve Moore injury.

In some ways, I think the aftermath of that situation was felt as personally by Canucks fans as it was by Bertuzzi. A complicated and unpleasant experience no one would ever want to go through again. Being a hockey fan is generally great fun (well, unless you’re a Toronto fan these days), but that was not a good time.

But whatever one’s feelings about Bertuzzi, there’s no doubt he was a game-changing player and exciting for his fans to watch. And given the history, both good and bad, I suppose his career will always be tied to the Canucks in one way or another.


Out in Minnesota, Michael Russo at the Star Tribune—probably one of the best writers in the NHL when it comes to keeping on top of everything going on with his team—wrote something the other day that I thought was a bit over-the-top:

In 13 seasons covering the NHL, I witnessed the Vancouver Canucks’ Matt Cooke execute one of the dirtiest hits I’ve ever seen Wednesday.

Russo’s entitled to his opinion, but that’s quite a dose of hyperbole if you ask me. One of the dirtiest hits he’s witnessed in 13 years…? Did he entirely miss the Bryan Marchment years? Geez, that guy alone must round out most people’s Top-10 list…

While I think that hit was one of the worst things I’ve ever seen Matt Cooke do, I don’t think it’s anywhere close to one of the dirtiest hits I’ve seen in NHL history.

Anyway, despite the melodramatics, Russo does make a good point in this part…

This was dirty, plain and simple. Luckily, Schultz saw Cooke coming and prepared for the despicable hit.

The NHL has an attempt-to-injure major penalty. Why does a player have to be injured for that penalty to be called if the “attempt” was there? In the NHL, Schultz apparently has to be taken off on a stretcher.

...but then idiocy returns when it’s time for Nick Schultz himself to comment:

“I was ready for Cooke to hit me clean, not to take me out low,” Schultz said. “You do that, your only intent is going after a guy’s knee. It’s frustrating. But that’s why [Cooke’s] the way he is. That’s what he does.

“Seems the league is more concerned about head shots. I mean [Mattias] Ohlund only gets four games for slashing Mikko [Koivu] in the leg, not the head? The injury could have been career-ending for Mikko just the same as if he got hit in the head.”

Ugh. First of all, Cooke is an agitator and hated by all for good reason. And I think he’s also guilty of going for a late hit frequently. But since when is he known for going after guys’ knees or attempting to injure on some regular basis? If that were so, it’s rather notable how little “success” he’s had causing such injuries.

Secondly, the remark about Ohlund’s suspension and head injuries is a selective recollection of history, considering that in the same game, the Wild’s own Marian Gaborik went for a very obvious and dangerous head hit on Ryan Kesler without even a penalty.


I haven’t been keeping up on my blog reading apparently, because I only just noticed that Lucas Aykroyd at posted an interview with Alex Burrows over a week ago. So I’m a bit behind, but as a fan of Burrows I figured I’d point to it for anyone else who might be interested. Looking at your stats, one thing that jumps out is that you only have six penalty minutes this season. How does it feel to be a potential Lady Byng candidate?

Burrows: [laughs] No, you know, early in the year, we took a lot of minor penalties, and we talked about it. We want to stay out of the box, and I didn’t really want to get undisciplined or dumb penalties after the whistle. So I think I still want to get under people’s skin, but without taking penalties. That’s the right thing to do.

Mmmm, yeah, he’s definitely not going to be picking up a Lady Byng anytime soon. In fact, like Matt Cooke, I imagine it would be best if Burrows never got traded. He’s definitely not making a lot of friends around the NHL; but then, that’s not his job.

Fortunately he is kicking Willie Mitchell’s butt in poker.

You can find the whole interview here.

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