Bertuzzi debuts with extra effort
Former foe says he feels excited
March 2, 2007
Todd Bertuzzi was in the house. Just don't expect him to be at Chris Chelios' house anytime soon.
Chelios and Bertuzzi have had a number of run-ins over the years -- Chelios once called him fat -- but the eldest Wing welcomed the newest Wing on Thursday as Bertuzzi took the ice at Joe Louis Arena for the first time.
And if the two don't pal around in Detroit, it won't be because of any lingering animosity.
"Before, I was on my own," Chelios said. "It was easy to hang around with the guys. Now with four kids, it's a big difference.
"Todd's not going to get any rest coming over to my house for dinner. It's hectic."
Bertuzzi, who will wear No. 44, practiced for the first time Thursday as a Red Wing and stayed out for the entire time, which surprised the coaches. Bertuzzi, who has played in only seven games this season because of a back injury, is probably two or three weeks away from his debut with the Wings.
"I knew he was going to go on the ice, but I thought he was going to be out there for a few minutes and gone," coach Mike Babcock said. "Surprised he hung around and was involved in some of the drills you can get bumped in.
"I mentioned to him before, you don't have to impress us today. That's not what you're here for. You impressed us already -- that's why you're here."
Bertuzzi said it "felt great" to be on the ice at the Joe, skating with his new teammates.
"It's nice to come in and get a good skate in and meet the guys," he said. "I'm excited.
"I'm hoping to come in and just help fill a different void and different look for the team."
Bertuzzi knew that in his first face-to-face meeting with Detroit media he would be asked about the incident in 2004, when he severely injured Colorado Avalanche forward Steve Moore.
"The only people who talk about and discuss it is usually media and all that," Bertuzzi said as he stood at his new locker. "You know, I got to respect that you guys have a job to do, and I understand it."
Bertuzzi said the incident has nothing to do with him playing in Detroit. Asked if he thought about the incident every day, he said: "No. No. There's a lot of guys who live in glass houses, too.
"I'm the same as everyone else," Bertuzzi said. "I just got issues that will take care of themselves. Like I said, it's not for Detroit to deal with. It's for me to deal with. It has no bearing on anything right now with me playing here."
Chelios, who may be booed in visiting arenas more than any other NHL player, said Bertuzzi will be accepted. "As soon as he gets healthy, it's going to be exciting for our fans and our team to see him play for us," Chelios said.
Bertuzzi is expected to be an intimidating force, but Babcock said that doesn't mean a guy who will start fights at stoppages in play.
"It's a guy who plays," Babcock said. "A guy who can eat up minutes and a guy who can play in situations for you and a guy that's going to be a threat to score."
Bertuzzi hasn't set a date for his return but expects to play the way he has in the past when he returns. "I can't be coming back and tiptoeing around, being afraid something might happen," he said. "The main thing here is get 100%, get my back strong enough so I can go out and play the way I know how to play."