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Tyler Bertuzzi: 'I want to be a Wing'

Calder Cup champ and MVP aiming at a roster spot this coming season

by Dana Wakiji @Dwakiji /

DETROIT - Tyler Bertuzzi has accomplished everything he wanted to accomplish in the minors so there's really only one thing left - earning a spot in the NHL.

Bertuzzi, 22, not only won the Calder Cup with the AHL's Grand Rapids Griffins last season, he also received the Jack A. Butterfield Trophy, awarded to the most valuable player, after recording nine goals and 10 assists in 19 playoff games.

"That was a huge honor to earn that," Bertuzzi said. "I've said it before, I couldn't have done it without my teammates and my line mates, just everyone in the organization. We were so close last year and had such a good group, everything worked out perfect, just like we planned it. It was an honor to be the MVP."

Bertuzzi, who was the guest instructor for the Detroit Red Wings youth camp on Friday, knows the opportunity he has ahead of him but says his mindset has not changed.

"I want to make the Detroit Red Wings, I want to be a Wing," Bertuzzi said. "Even when I was going back to juniors, I just came in with the same mindset. Just work hard and compete and try and earn a spot."

When the Vegas Golden Knights selected forward Tomas Nosek in the expansion draft, it created another opening that Bertuzzi could slip through.

At the NHL draft, coach Jeff Blashill talked about Bertuzzi, who played in seven games with the Wings last season.

"Bert looks to me like he's on the very of becoming a good NHL player," Blashill said. "He brings a lot of qualities that we don't have. He's hard and has skill. We got a lot of guys with skill that might not be hard and we got some guys that are hard that might not have as much skill. He's got pretty good package as a fit on our team. I think the playoff he had certainly puts him in a position to grab a spot next year and make our team better."

Bertuzzi said the time he spent with the Wings gave him a boost of confidence.

"You know what it feels like to play," he said. "I think that's going to help me in the long run. It's going to go a long way just to have that little bit of experience, I think helps. That's in any league, a little bit of experience is going to help you be more confident and maybe try to make a better play rather than chip it in and stuff like that. I took a lot away from it and I want to bring it this year."

The Griffins did not end their season until the middle of June so it's been a short summer for them.

"It's all worth it, going that long distance and sacrifices and all that. It's a short summer but you got to do what you got to do," Bertuzzi said. "Starting to work out again, obviously, training. Haven't started skating yet. Probably going to start skating soon. It's like a short summer but you got to get right back at it.

"You can't take too much (time) off because it's so short and the season's just coming up. You just got to get back at it as soon as you possibly can."

Like all young players, Bertuzzi has things he wants to work on during the summer.

"The last few summers I've just been working on my lower body strength for my skating," Bertuzzi said. "My skating is not the best. I'm going to try to improve on that as much as possible in the summer."

One of the highlights of the summer for Bertuzzi was getting to spend the day with the Calder Cup.

Tweet from @CalderCup: A Man, his Cup and his Calder Pup! ������

"I was waiting for that day in the summer," Bertuzzi said. "I got it, brought it to my dad's house on the lake and all my friends and family came. It was an awesome day. It sucks having to send it off the next day but we had a lot of fun with it."

On Friday, Bertuzzi was having fun with the raucous group of kids at the youth camp.

"It's good to see the smile on their faces and I remember doing summer camps like this, but I never had an NHL team be able to host it," Bertuzzi said. "This is a great opportunity for them to learn and to know what it's like to play in the Joe and play on an NHL rink."

Bertuzzi could also use himself as an example when he gave advice to the young players.

"Just keep working hard, listen, pay attention as much as you can," he said. "It's all going to pay off in the long run."

Bertuzzi admitted he was also getting a little wistful, thinking about it being the last time he would get to skate on Joe Louis Arena ice.

"The days are counting down before everyone moves in (to Little Caesars Arena)," Bertuzzi said.

"Obviously exciting, you still look around and look up and just take it all in as much as you can because it's not going to be around very much longer."

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