As the world turns and the hours tick by towards the beginning of the NHL season we will continue to review some of the storylines that may (or may not) play out in the season opening game between the Vancouver Canucks and the Calgary Flames. Today’s story: The Return of Todd Bertuzzi…
Would the real Todd Bertuzzi please stand up?
Back in 1998 when then GM Mike Keenan acquired Todd Bertuzzi from the New York Islanders in a deal that involved Canucks’ legend Trevor Linden many of the the Canucks faithful did not know what to expect. Bertuzzi was an underachieving prospect in the Islanders system that carried the potential to be a dominant force in the NHL, if given the opportunity.
Upon his arrival to the struggling Canucks, Bertuzzi immediately started producing highlight reel goals and shortly thereafter became a fan favourite. With Bertuzzi’s size and abilities coming to the limelight and they chemistry between he and Markus Naslund, Todd was now becoming the focal point of the Vancouver Canucks. He along with Naslund and centre Brendan Morrison combined to form one of the most feared lines in the NHL. Each and every time the ‘West Coast Express’ stepped over the boards the opposition would crumble under the pressure. The hulking 6’3” winger created room, demanded attention and created mayhem.
As the line began to take the NHL by storm the Vancouver Canucks slowly began to climb in the NHL standings and some considered them to be amongst the NHL’s elite. And many pre-season predictions had the Canucks sipping champagne from the Stanley Cup.
In October of 2003, Bertuzzi, thriving off the success of a 46 goal (97 point) outburst in the 2002-03 season signed a four year /27.8 million dollar contract with the Canucks. The love affair was on and Bertuzzi would seemingly remain a Canuck for the remainder of his NHL career.
Bertuzzi struggled through the 2003-04 season and having scored just 17 goals, being ridiculed in the media for not performing to his contracts standards, Bertuzzi snapped. In retaliation to a hit on captain Markus Naslund not two-weeks prior, Bertuzzi, attacked Colorado winger Steve Moore. To date Moore has not returned to the NHL and Bertuzzi has yet to return to his previous NHL fourm.
In the summer of 2006, GM Dave Nonis traded Bertuzzi to the Florida Panthers. A trade that has brought on several changes to the Vancouver Canucks line-up and one that has switched the focus of the team from high-flying offence to conservative defense.
Bertuzzi returned to Vancouver for the first time last season with the Anaheim Ducks, amid the fan-fare of his return Bertuzzi was a non-factor in the game. This season, Todd will return to GM Place wearing the C-of red for the Calgary Flames. A jersey that he so loathed while part of the Canucks, he is playing for ‘the other guys’ and while you may want to wish the worst upon him, lets not forget all the good that he brought to the Canucks; the highlight reel goals and the bone-crushing body checks.
How much of a factor will Todd Bertuzzi have in his return to GM Place?