Sunday, September 10, 2006

Todd Talks

Tony Gallagher (Vancouver Province) got Todd Bertuzzi to open up and give his honest answers to some tough questions. In this excellent piece, Todd talks about, among other things, his relationship with ex-Canucks coach Marc Crawford, his relationship with his teammates and his relationship with the fans of Vancouver. Here is what he said.

On Marc Crawford:

"I don't want to come off as a guy leaving a city with sour grapes but I'm just telling you because you asked," said Bertuzzi.

"We had some real differences in philosophy, and there were some things he did that really bothered me, most particularly how he handled my friends -- Brad May especially.

"He never played him. He never gave him a chance to show what he could do. Here was a guy who was a 15-year war vet, a warrior, a guy who had fought every tough guy in the league and yet he was never put out there in any other kind of situation. And this was a guy who could handle all kinds of roles in the league. That really bothered me.

"There were other things, too. I thought he hit the panic button down the stretch [last year as the Canucks tried to make the playoffs] and wanted us to play a different style when things got tough.

"Everyone knew what kind of team we had and he was trying to get us to play like the Minnesota Wild. Our [Bertuzzi's line's] ice time dropped off and he was trying to get guys like Markus to dump the puck in and play in a way that wasn't very effective for us. And here I was, an 11-year guy, and he was threatening to sit me out and other great players as well and I thought that was a little ridiculous to treat guys that way, who you have ridden to success playing a different way before. It just didn't make sense to me.

"In fairness to him, we did struggle but one of the things that bothers me most about leaving Vancouver is the fact we [he, Markus Naslund and Brendan Morrison] weren't together as a line at the end. Here we were ridden like horses for the better part of four years, two or three of them for sure, and when it gets down to it and the pressure is on, we're on the side burner when we knew we could still get the job done.

"We used to be out for a minute and a half on some power plays but then suddenly we were the second unit and we felt a little bit used. It was pretty frustrating knowing we could still do it but missing the playoffs like that. We just went into a style I wasn't going to play.

"But having said that, on balance of all my time in Vancouver, I still think he's probably the best coach I ever played for. A lot of the talk about tension between us was overblown, a media thing.

"We had some issues but that doesn't mean he's a bad coach and I certainly don't want to leave here being the guy calling him down. At New Year's [2005-06] five or six of us guys sat down with him for a handful of beers and we had a good talk and he even picked up the tab and the communication lines were open. But I'm not going to lie to you and say everything was fine."
On the supposedly-divided dressing room:

"I really do think it was overblown and it was mostly started by one guy, and how can I control what one guy like Steve McCarthy thinks," said Bertuzzi.

"When all that stuff started coming out it bothered all of us so much we had a team meeting about it and it was one of those where it was nothing but the truth or leave the room. Not one guy stood up and said he had a problem.

"I think it was mostly sour grapes on his [McCarthy's] part because he wasn't playing much and when he left he said those things. I don't know why he said them.

"I hung around a lot with Markus, Clouts [Dan Cloutier] and Richard Park and spent a lot of time with Jovo and that pretty much touches all those so-called cliques. There were lots of times we asked him to come out to dinner but you can't help it if a guy doesn't want to come or wants to stay in his room.

"He's a man and can make his own choices, his own decisions. You can't beg the guy to come out.

"Why should I have to defend my friendship with Markus? That really bothered me because I shouldn't have to do it. Our wives were close, our kids used to spend time together and there was nothing wrong with that, and for me to have to defend the fact I have a close friend on the team isn't right.

"We weren't excluding anyone else. Ask Wino [Eric Weinrich] and [Keith] Carney what it was like when they got there and see if there were any problems. They'll tell you what it was like. Those guys have both been around and with a lot of teams."
On coming back to Vancouver:

"That will be the hardest game I'll probably ever have to play," he said. "I've got friends on the team and the fans in Vancouver are absolutely the best. The support they have given me over the years, I'll never be able to thank them enough.

"You know, we didn't win a Cup in Vancouver and didn't get even to the third round but I had many great experiences with the people I met and I'll always remember my time there. I won't forget those people.

"In fact, at the end of this year, I'm an unrestricted free agent again.

"You never know, stranger things have happened."

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, 10:24 PM


At September 11, 2006 8:41 AM, Blogger Jeremy said...

Great interview -- thanks for digging it up and sharing it here. It's one of those that reveals how bad most interviews are during the season when every article seems to be a mishmash of the same cliches. Hilarious ending with the "you never know..." Imagine that, eh?

At September 11, 2006 5:35 PM, Blogger hoopsjunky said...

I know. Tracy is a big Bertuzzi fan and she got all giddy when I read her that line.

I can't see it happen though unless Bert takes a Trevor Linden-like pay cut or the salary cap goes to about $50 million or Keenan takes over from Nonis as GM of the team. :p

At September 11, 2006 11:02 PM, Blogger Jeremy said...

HA haha...oh god, please no.


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