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Iginla key in bringing Bertuzzi to Calgary

by Mike Board / Calgary Flames
There had always been a mutual respect between the two players, often combatants on the ice.

And that made it quite easy for Jarome Iginla, the Calgary Flames captain and undisputed leader, to help persuade Todd Bertuzzi to come to Calgary to join the Flames.

"Jarome is 100 per cent why I am a Calgary Flame. It was exciting talking to him" said Bertuzzi, who signed a one-year deal as a free agent with the Flames on Monday. "We respected each other when we played against each other. I have always respected how Jarome has played and been in that market. He probably could have gone somewhere else be he has always stayed. I'm looking forward to being his teammate."

Todd Bertuzzi Highlights

Sold on the city and the Flames drive to win the Stanley CupThe market, of course, is Calgary. Not always the friendliest of confines for Bertuzzi, who was a rival while in Vancouver. It may take some time for Flames fans to warm to Big Bert -- something Bertuzzi is acutely aware of.

"Hopefully not too long. I don't want to be the home guy being booed," said Bertuzzi, on a conference call with NHL media following the announcement.  "It's a great Canadian market. They are passionate. I'm looking forward to playing there. It's always been a great building for me to play in."

Bertuzzi, who had 14 goals and 40 points last season, wants to improve on his offensive stats and believes he can get back to, or at least close to, some of the numbers he put up while with the Canucks -- he had 46 goals and 97 points in 2002-03.

"Absolutely," said Bertuzzi. "I would have announced my retirement. Calgary is giving me a chance to come in and get some ice time and contribute."

Iginla, who played on Canada's Olympic team with Bertuzzi, said Bertuzzi is a tough competitor and that he is looking forward to playing with him. "I'm excited he is going to join our club. I look forward to playing with him and doing some good things. I know when I played iwth him in the past there was a lot of chemistry. I know there are a lot of guys on our team that are excited."

He added that he believes in second chances, which is what Bertuzzi is getting in Calgary. Iginla added he hopes that fans in Calgary give Bertuzzi a chance to put history in the past.

"I think he is a character guy," sadi Iginla. "He made a bad decision. It was a bad incident. It he could take it back, I assure you he would. I do believe in second chances. He should move on and I think we should too."

It doesn't hurt that Bertuzzi's career kickstarted in Vancouver under Mike Keenan, the Flames head bench boss.

"I know the style that he coaches and the he wants to win at all costs," said Bertuzzi, apparently in top shape and a few pounds lighter than last season.

Bertuzzi can be viewed as a replacement for Owen Nolan, who departed for Minnesota after spending one year with the Flames. He is versatile and can play both wings. He is big and a tough body to move in front of the net.

"Coming to Calgary I think I have a chance to play more than I have been," said Bertuzzi. "I will have to talk to Mike Keenan and Darryl Sutter a little more abut exactly what the role will be but I am preparing myself to come in and play an offensive role. We'll see how things work out at training camp," said Bertuzzi.

"My numbers have been down a bit but I think I can improve those."

And, playing in a rabid hockey market in Calgary is just what he wanted.

"The expectations in Calgary are high and I think it was time for me to come back (to Canada) and play. I played my best hockey in Canada when I was under the microscope and under the pressure," said Bertuzzi.

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