Vancouver Canuck fans woke this morning to a heartfelt conversation between their lumbering hulk Todd Bertuzzi and the Canucks’ host broadcaster John Shorthouse. It seems that Bertuzzi was concerned about an Ed Willes column in Sunday’s Vancouver Province, which basically claimed that Bertuzzi had demanded a trade and no longer got along with head coach Marc Crawford.
The on air interview which aired repeatedly (listen here) on both CKNW and MOJO through most of the day’s sports casts, had a soft spoken Bertuzzi claiming nothing but love for Vancouver, for his team mates and for his coach. No demands for a trade said Bert; he has work to finish in Vancouver.
As the heart strings were being tugged in Vancouver, over on the other side of the country the FAN 590 was fanning the rumors of trade. Bob McCown’s show Prime Time Sports spent a bit of time on the Bertuzzi rumor, suggesting that he might be New York Ranger bound. This week’s co-host Jim Kelly observed that the Canuck’s power forward hasn’t exactly been setting the hockey world on fire these days and could very well be on the block.
The most unlikely name floated for a possible trade, was that of Zdeno Chara of the Ottawa Senators, perhaps based on his performance in Vancouver on Friday night. Though one wonders why the Senators would be interested in trading a key component of their team such as Chara. More likely to be used as trade bait on the Sens might be Chris Phillips, who tends to be overshadowed these days on the blue line by both Chara and Wade Redden. Though even he is pretty important to the Senators line up and it would have to be a solid improvement for the Sens to let Phillips go. Considering Bertuzzi’s inconsistency so far this year, that’s not a trade John Muckler, is likely to make.
Bertuzzi has had Vancouver fans scratching their heads all season long; many a talk show has had phone calls wondering when Big Bert is going to turn it up a notch for good this year. He’s had good games and bad ones this year, which gives him a lot in common with his team mates. In some he's coasted at times through the games, a presence on the ice but not necessarily on the scoreboard. Like Clark Gilles of the old Islander days, he seems to only become dangerous when he’s banged around a bit. So far most teams playing the Canucks have been content to let the giant sleep. It's that inability to put his game in gear on a nightly basis that has his name on the trade rumor list now.
It’s indicative of the passion for hockey in Vancouver these days that the rumors even get started. Every little word or expression from a Canuck is subject to investigation and commentary. The Province regularly stirs the pot and gets the Canuck dressing room excited about some issue of the day. This time it was a suggestion that the Canuck’s winger is causing more problems than he’s solving in Vancouver. A suggestion that has had the sports talk shows of Vancouver busy all day long. To get a sample of the buzz on this story check out the CKNW website and it's audio vault , the Dan Russell sportstalk show from 9-12 pm, covered the situation fully.
How the team bands together in aid of their fellow Canuck will be interesting to watch, coaches and GM’s always hope to build up an Us against them relationship between their team and the outside world. It was something that former GM Brian Burke cultivated with great success. The Willes article in the Province on Sunday may have done current GM Dave Nonis a great favor, in one column the underperforming Bertuzzi may have been stirred to action.
Tuesday night the Rangers face the Canucks; it could be a night that sees Bertuzzi begin to reclaim that form that made him a crowd favorite a few seasons ago. If not, the trade rumors will not only continue they’ll become louder and louder with each passing game.