As we ready our popcorn and PVRs for the debut of 24/7: Road to the Winter Classic, we count down the top-10 characters on the Toronto Maple Leafs and Detroit Red Wings we’re most excited to get to know better. No. 9: Todd Bertuzzi.
Todd Bertuzzi is something of a mystery these days.
The Red Wings winger has, of course, already secured everlasting notoriety for his ugly 2004 attack on Steve Moore, which ended the Avalanche forward’s career, cost Bertuzzi a 17-month suspension (though the 2004-05 lockout meant he missed only 20 NHL games) and about half a million in salary and, of course, lost him the benefit of the doubt for the rest of his time in the league.
But that was a long time ago, and Bertuzzi’s a different player now. A combination of age, back problems and a no-doubt fervent desire to steer far clear of any further league discipline long ago took the dangerous edge out of his game. He’s now a slow winger with a nose for the net and a fine set of hands that are often on display as one of the Red Wings go-to shootout options.
But what’s Todd Bertuzzi really like? Does that fire that burned so hot it almost cost him his livelihood, ever come out behind the closed door of the dressing room? Will he open up to the cameras about what his life has been like—and if he does, will it be self-serving justification, or an honest discussion of the legacy of his attack on Moore? Is he reflective these days, realistic about his place in the game? Or does he still feel, as he so often seemed to, like a victim of horrible circumstances?
What kind of wisdom does the 38-year-old have to offer to young Wings like Brendan Smith, who have been known to get drawn in to on-ice nastiness from time to time? How often does he give thanks that, almost 10 years after a moment that will forever live in hockey infamy, he’s not only still collecting a paycheque, but spending the twilight of his career skating alongside Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg?
The producers—and hockey fans—will have questions for Todd Bertuzzi. We hope they are tough ones, and we hope he’s ready to give some honest answers. A tell-it-like-it-is session from Bertuzzi would surely make waves in the hockey world.
Tune in as 24/7 follows the Maple Leafs and Red Wings on the road to the NHL’s Winter Classic, Jan. 1, 2014 at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor, Michigan. The first episode debuts at 7:30 p.m., Sunday, Dec. 15 on Sportsnet East, Ontario and Pacific.