Friday, October 14, 2005

Bertuzzi struggles through early games

For Todd Bertuzzi it seems that the idea picking up where he left off is a little bit harder than first thought. When Bertuzzi was reinstated many wondered if he would play a less physical game than the crashing, bashing style that made him famous. Would a misplaced elbow, or a crushing check into the boards land him on the Colin Campbell/Gary Bettman carpets, where banishment is a hammer apparently not spoken, but fully understood.

With a new season underway, thus far there has been a change in the way Bertuzzi seems to play the game. He's tentative on the ice at times, has struggled to find his place in a game that has changed since his infamous night in Vancouver and the "incident". The Bertuzzi presently patrolling the ice for the Canucks is not the same equalizer of past seasons, he doesn't seem to create the space he once did, his passing and shooting have not been particularly sharp and his points so far are not at levels expected. He has taken careless chances with the puck in his own end, been sent to the penalty box for needless penalties far away from the play and generally seems to be playing in a bit of a fog, unsure where to fit himself into the lineup night after night.

The Vancouver Province explores his return with an article here (subscription required, though if you go to Google sports and type in Bertuzzi you find a back door into the story {you're welcome}) The article by Brad Ziemer gives us an interesting glimpse into the road Bertuzzi is presently on.

There is still much residue from that attack on Steve Moore, it would seem that Bertuzzi is now destined to hear the Boobirds at every rink he and the Canucks visit. In many places it would appear that he is now public enemy number one. It will be interesting to see how he handles the attention and the endless questions that he will face. Many believe he should not have been allowed back until Moore was fit to play again, others say he should be banned for life.

While they debate those issues to the last breath, the simple fact is that the NHL has closed the book on the Moore/Bertuzzi incident. Bertuzzi is back on the ice, most likely under the watchful eye of the NHL brass, a situation that could be the genesis of his slow start and uncommon on ice errors. It's only five games into a lengthy season, some in Vancouver are quick to panic, suggesting the best solution would be a trade to the East for Bertuzzi. Personally I don't think that's in the cards, the Canucks have been fairly adamant about keeping a core group together for a run at the Cup. Bertuzzi has always been at the heart of that core, expect the team to give him more than five games to get back into a groove and return to the form that made him the toast of Vancouver at one time.

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