EMOTIONAL TIME FOR NASLUND
Jim Jamieson said that today will be the Todd Bertuzzi’s first appearance in Vancouver since he was traded for Roberto Luongo. Although distances apart, the relationship between Markus Naslund and Bertuzzi remains strong as they continued to keep in close contact.
“Canucks captain Markus Naslund has remained in close contact with his good friend and former linemate and expects tonight's game with the Anaheim Ducks to have a little more emotion than usual.,” said Jamieson.
"For me, personally, it's going to be a little bit different facing Todd, who I've been that close with and played with for such a long time," said Naslund. "I'm sure for him to come back here and face a lot of his [former] teammates that he's still good friends with, and to come to this city that was such a big part of his career and that I know he misses, it'll be a little bit different.
"But our focus can't be on Todd coming back, it has to be on what we have to do to play a good team like Anaheim."
Jamieson said, “Along with centre Brendan Morrison, Bertuzzi and Naslund formed the West Coast Express line, which for a couple of seasons was considered the top unit in the NHL. Put together for the first time on Jan. 9, 2002, in Detroit, the trio helped the Canucks lead the league that season with 254 regular season goals. They went on to dominate, with Naslund finishing second in NHL scoring in 2002-03 (48-56-104), while Bertuzzi had 46 goals.”
THE VANCOUVER SUN
CANUCKS EXPECT CHEERS FOR BERT
Brad Ziemer said Todd Bertuzzi may not be a Canuck, but isn’t forgotten by the Vancouver fans, which is why the team expects more cheers than jeers when Bertuzzi hits Vancouver ice once again.
"I think they are going to cheer him, I don't see a reason why they wouldn't," Canuck captain Markus Naslund said of the fans' reaction tonight to his former linemate, who remains a close friend. "He loved it here, he was one of the best players the Canucks have ever had and he entertained the city for a long time. He has done a lot for this organization."
“Not all of it was good, of course, as Bertuzzi's days as a Canuck ended miserably following the Steve Moore affair and the crumbling of his relationship with former coach Marc Crawford,” said Ziemer.
“His former teammates prefer to remember the good times, and there were lots of those.”
"I thought that for quite some time he was the most dominant player in the league," Naslund said. "He controlled the play, he pushed the other team back with his size and speed and strength. He made superb plays, too. He was a huge key to our line and to our team."
Ziemer said, “Naslund, who talks regularly to Bertuzzi, acknowledged it has taken him some time to get over losing Bertuzzi as a teammate.”
"It was a big adjustment," Naslund said. "My initial thought when I got the puck most of the time was to look for where Todd was and then try to get open. My game had a lot to do with Todd, for sure, and it has been an adjustment."
"We played together for so long and I kind of got used to playing that game," Naslund said.
“For two magical seasons -- 2001-02 and 2002-03 -- Naslund, Bertuzzi and Brendan Morrison were, arguably, the best line in the NHL. Naslund and Bertuzzi combined for 170 goals and 376 points in those two campaigns,” said Ziemer.
“Morrison, who joked that he was only along for the ride, managed to see enough of the puck to chip in 48 goals and 138 points of his own during that span. He said he'll never forget how much fun it was playing on a line like that.”
"That one year [2002-03], after Christmas, we went on a tear. Nassie had 48 goals, Bert had 46. It seemed like every night those guys were dominating and I was fitting in," Morrison recalled with a laugh.
THE VANCOUVER SUN
(UN)HAPPY RETURNS FOR BERTUZZI
Iain MacIntyre talks about the best things about Bertuzzi as a Canuck and the things that contributed to his downfall.
“The greatest thing about Todd Bertuzzi in Vancouver is he worked on Brian Burke's rescue party that saved the franchise at the turn of the decade, and he became, however briefly, one of the greatest hockey players in the world as a Canuck,” said MacIntyre.
“And the worst thing about Todd Bertuzzi as he returns tonight to play for the Anaheim Ducks is that almost all the good stuff was eclipsed at the end by the bad, which says something about the scope and hue of the blackness that engulfed the winger like poison gas in his final two years here.”
“By the time the Canucks were eliminated from the playoff race by winning only one of their last eight games that mattered, Bertuzzi's baggage in Vancouver had reached a critical mass,” MacIntyre said.
“His corrosive relationship with former coach Marc Crawford -- they refused to speak to each other -- was like acid that burned through the Canucks' hull and helped sink them.”
“Bertuzzi had to go. On this, there should be no debate.”
"They wouldn't even look at each other, didn't even want to be in the same room," one Canuck said of Bertuzzi and Crawford, who was fired the month before the player was jettisoned. "Young guys would see that and go: 'What is going on?' "
Another player, at the first training camp without both, said: "It's like a huge weight has been lifted off everyone, even from guys who didn't realize there was a weight on them."
“A poor trade involving Bertuzzi would have been addition by subtraction because it would have allowed Vigneault to begin the job of rebuilding unencumbered,” said MacIntyre.
“But when Nonis somehow kept from giggling and maintained an even voice in trade negotiations long enough with soon-to-be-ex-Florida GM Mike Keenan to acquire superstar goalie Roberto Luongo on the eve of the 2006 draft, it fast-tracked the Canucks' rebirth and dramatically altered the course of both franchises.”
Even Vancouver captain Markus Naslund, Bertuzzi's closest friend and ally on the Canucks, said Sunday: "Much as I hated losing my friend, we ended up with Louie, so no one can complain." Not here, anyway.
Brendan Morrison, who partnered Bertuzzi and Naslund on what was the NHL's best line during the 2001-02 and '02-03 seasons, said: "I don't want to dwell on the negatives with Bert. How he left was disappointing because he did so much good for the team. For a couple of years, we were the most exciting team to watch and he was a big part of that. That's what I want to remember."
THE VANCOUVER SUN
'BERT' INTO MEMORY
Iain MacIntyre put together Five games that shaped Todd Bertuzzi's legacy as a Canuck.
1. Oct. 13, 2001 vs. Colorado Avalanche
Late in a 4-0 Canuck win, Bertuzzi leaves the bench after teammate Ed Jovanovski is jumped by Avalanche enforcer Scott Parker. Bertuzzi's automatic 10-game suspension is seen as a turning point in his career.
2. March 19, 2002 vs. New York Rangers
Bertuzzi arrives in the centre of the universe, literally and figuratively, scoring all the goals in a 3-1 win in Manhattan as the Canucks go 13-2-1 down the stretch to make the playoffs during his breakthrough season.
3. May 8, 2003 vs. Minnesota Wild
Bertuzzi buries a breakaway to put the Canucks ahead 2-0 in Game 7 of the second-round series. But he tells the Wild bench "to get out your golf clubs" and Minnesota scores four times to eliminate Vancouver.
4. March 8, 2004 vs. Colorado Avalanche
In what would become a defining moment, Bertuzzi sucker punches Steve Moore, ending Moore's career and getting suspended the rest of the season. Without Bertuzzi, the Canucks lose in the playoffs against Calgary.
5. Nov. 13, 2005 vs. Detroit Red Wings
In one of his last great games in Vancouver, Bertuzzi scores a hat trick in a 4-1 win. But he finishes the season minus 17, and his feud with coach Marc Crawford speeds the Canucks' collapse and leads to his trade.
ACRIMONIOUS LAWSUIT DRAGS ON AND ON
Jim Jamieson said Steve Moore and Todd Bertuzzi’s law suit continues to “grind towards its day in court.”
“Moore has filed a $19.5-million lawsuit against Bertuzzi, relating to an incident on March 8, 2004. Bertuzzi, then playing for the Vancouver Canucks, struck Moore, who was playing for the Colorado Avalanche, from behind on the side of the head and then drove his head into the ice,” said Jamieson.
“Moore suffered three fractured vertebrae in his neck, a concussion and facial injuries. He has not played since.”
“Moore is seeking $15 million in lost wages, $1 million in aggravated damages and another $2 million in punitive damages from Bertuzzi. Moore's parents are also claiming $1.5 million in damages for "the nervous shock and mental distress" caused by the attack.
Last week, Moore's lawyers asked a judge to void the transfer of Bertuzzi's home in Kitchener, Ont., to his wife shortly after the March 8, 2004, incident,” Jamieson said.
“According to documents filed in Ontario Superior Court, Bertuzzi transferred the ownership of his $1.2-million home to his wife five weeks after the infamous game.”
Moore's lawyers said the move was designed to "make Bertuzzi creditor-proof to the greatest extent possible."
Bertuzzi said in a statement that the property transfer was "made in good faith, in the course of organizing affairs ... as husband and wife."
“Lawyers for Bertuzzi and Orca Bay Sports and Entertainment made the offer -- which was rejected -- to Moore's lawyer Tim Danson during a meeting in December 2006,” said Jamieson.
In the letter, Danson wrote the offer "was calculated to be an insult and was an insult."
“Danson also said in the letter that Moore was offered and refused $1 million on July 31, 2006, to settle the case,” Jamieson said.
“The NHL suspended Bertuzzi for the final 13 regular-season games of the 2003-04 season and the playoffs. He was reinstated by the NHL after the 2004-05 lockout season.”
“Bertuzzi was also charged with assault by authorities. He pleaded guilty and was sentenced to probation and community service.”