Bertuzzi’s Big Day
I have a bone to pick.
The other night, I wandered over to the NHL Shop website looking to spend a $25 gift certificate that I had received over the holiday season. As soon as I hit the site, I knew what I was going to buy: a red t-shirt with the Winged Wheel on the front and “Bertuzzi/44” on the back. So I started searching in the player apparel section, only to realize that the area in question could only satisfy my retail shopping needs if I was looking for a Datsyuk, Zetterberg or Lidstrom shirt. Undaunted, I headed over to the “customize” tab on the site, figuring that it would take a few more minutes and a couple of extra bones out of my wallet to get me a customized shirt in the mail.
After numerous attempts at trying to get the Bertuzzi shirt, the website remained steadfast in its assertion that I could not customize my apparel with a current roster player. So there I sat, not really sure what to do. I thought about putting the money towards a Bertuzzi jersey. I flirted with the possibility of customizing a shirt with “52” and “Shitbox” on the back. In the end, though, I did what 90% of all Wings fans out there wind up doing: I ordered a Datsyuk shirt.
While some might be disappointed in not getting what they originally intended to purchase at the store, I’m just thrilled we’ve made it to this point as fans. Todd Bertuzzi is finally doing what the Wings are paying him to do, and god dammit if it doesn’t feel good for everyone involved. Oh sure, there are still Bert haters out there who would prefer he wasn’t on the team, and to those “fans” I give a big wag of my middle finger and a “F**K YOU” to boot. I don’t care that certain folks may dislike Bertuzzi, because I know those same folks were trying to bury a grin after Big Bert canned the game winner and came around the boards smiling like some of us have never seen. Folks, don’t try and act like that didn’t make you feel good. In fact, I’ll let you in on a little secret: It’s OK to like Todd Bertuzzi.
Fact is that Todd Bertuzzi loves Detroit and loves playing for this organization and therefore – via the transitive property – loves each and every one of us that call ourselves Red Wings fans. Following the game, Bert told Darren Pang that this is the best place he’s been during his NHL career. Why wouldn’t it be? When nobody else gave him a chance, Detroit’s given him two. In an offseason without a ton of cap flexibility, Ken Holland found a way to give Bert his payday and then some. On the day of his 1,000 career NHL game, the Wings flew Todd’s entire family to Minnesota to watch Dad/Hubby bury the game clinching goal in the shootout. Things like this don’t happen for a guy who isn’t thankful to be where he is, and Bertuzzi is exactly that.
Perhaps the fans should learn a little lesson from big Todd. You see, rather than bitching and moaning about the guy who will always be linked to that incident with the guy and the place, maybe it’s about time to move past it and just support Todd Bertuzzi, the man. Yes, it’s hard to stand firmly behind a guy who hardly says anything to the media and is covered from head to toe in tattoos, but let’s not forget that this guy is a darn good hockey player and probably an excellent father and husband to boot. It’s taken some time, but Bertuzzi is finally starting to warm up both on and off the ice, which is bound to lead to a fascinating story for those who are prepared to listen.
So for those of you who still send e-mails and tweets wishing Bertuzzi was “somewhere else”: Thank you. Thank you for being so narrow-sighted that you are now making fools out of yourselves. Todd Bertuzzi loves Detroit and he’s here to stay and the sooner you realize that, the faster you can get back to enjoying being a Wings fan. It’s a fun ride and I’m glad Todd’s aboard. Now, if I could just somehow buy a shirt through NHL.com that shows that…
Let’s Not Forget
While the bulk of the focus was on Bertuzzi’s 1,000th career NHL game and shootout win (which, by the way, congratulations Todd…since I failed to mention it in the previous bullet), there’s no way I can get through this post and not mention to stellar performance from Jimmy Howard today. 25 saves in regulation and overtime, but the real gems were the back-to-back stops Howard offered up during the shootout. Jimmah looked focused all day long, and it really came through in his fundamentals and positioning. Havlat’s breakaway goal was one of those 50/50 situations where you never know what’s going to happen, and Howard just happened to be a split second late getting the paddle blade onto the ice. Otherwise, it was a rock solid performance from the NHL’s league leader in wins, which is definitely nothing to sneeze at.
Hockey Day In America
The entire day was screwy, IMO. Awful pregame, weird timing for the games and odd play-by-pairings made for an experience that was memorable, but for all the wrong reasons. Unfortunately, one of those play-by-play pairings was the Red Wings own Ken Daniels, who wound up covering the Rangers/Flyers game with Joe Micheletti. While it was refreshing to hear Kenny’s voice on NBC throughout the day, I thought that he and Micheletti lacked chemistry until somewhere in the third period of the game, making the first 40 minutes rather awkward and forced. On the other hand, I was very impressed with the Pat Foley/Darren Pang combo that serviced the Wings/Wild game, despite knowing that Foley is the voice of the Chicago Blackhawks. The two had a very solid chemistry with each other, and it really showed throughout the broadcast. Now, if we could just figure out who that Jiri Whodler guy is…
Photo courtesy of the Associated Press