Friday, July 21, 2006

A Fresh Start In Florida

After Todd Bertuzzi faced the Miami media for the first time since being traded to the Florida Panthers from the Vancouver Canucks, Greg Cote (Miami Herald) wrote a nice piece on him:

You meet Todd Bertuzzi for the first time and you start with the pleasantries, of course. Small talk. Hockey stuff. Did the trade surprise you, and what do you think of the Panthers, and et cetera and so forth. But everything is leading somewhere else, somewhere darker, and you know it, and he knows it.

South Florida's newest NHL star, the goal-scorer counted on to end the club's long playoff drought, moves a pinch of Kodiak tobacco from a tin to under his upper lip after a while and looks you in the eye as he opens the door slightly, just enough.

"It was uncomfortable and very distracting," he says, meaning this past season with the Vancouver Canucks. "It was tough to stay focused. Maybe the fresh start is what was needed. No strings attached."
I personally hope that that's what he gets. Most Canucks fans, while disgusted at the Moore incident, were quick to forgive and forget. Todd, the person, had strong ties to the Vancouver community and it made it easier to see and accept his remorse.

Panthers fans have already started to see this side of him as well - since his arrival in Florida, Todd has already formed "Bertuzzi's Buddies", a charitable program in which he donates tickets to underprivileged kids for Panthers' home games.
Bertuzzi still feels remorse, but the tears have dried. His family -- his wife of 10 years, a daughter, 7, and a son, 5 -- has received death threats. Police details have accompanied him on road trips. Booing and derision have chased him in visiting arenas throughout the NHL.

The prices paid by victim and attacker cannot be compared, but Bertuzzi has paid some, too, for his solitary act of cowardice masquerading as hockey machismo.

He thinks Panthers fans will welcome him and says, "I think fans will enjoy me," and he'll be right, if he is the 40-goal scorer he says he can be again, and if he backs up his claim, "I am not coming here to not make the playoffs." This franchise has had no scorer other than Pavel Bure capable of offense like Bertuzzi, at his best, can bring. And no playoff victories since 1997 make Panthers fans a generous, forgiving lot.
Just like Canucks fans.

Comments/Questions: Feel free to post in the comments section or email me at gocanucksgo10 (at) hotmail (dot) com.

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posted by J.J. Guerrero, 12:50 PM


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