Sunday 8 July 2007

Burke and Bertuzzi: Together Again

A championship winning coach or general manager takes on a new aura of respect, a cachet that makes all his moves and pronouncements seem worthy. Just as with successful businessmen, people have a habit of casually waving aside any questionable tactics that helped them get to the top.

There's always been a kind of smug defiance from Brian Burke regarding the whole Todd Bertuzzi/Steve Moore incident in Vancouver a few years ago. Despite the fact that Burke and Bertuzzi will be in civil court one day regarding the whole nasty affair, or perhaps partly because of it, Burke has brought the big forward into the Anaheim Ducks' fold for the 2007/08 season. Burke tries to avoid discussing the Moore incident as much as possible. When forced to, he becomes abrasive and agitated. While he tries to avoid talking about it directly, it's clear he feels a sort of bond with Bertuzzi for having gone through the wringer of media lynchings and public outrage together.

Bertuzzi, on the other hand, has never been the same since. Having his psyche ripped open for the whole world to dance around inside his head has left him appearing, at times, a barely functioning automaton. As a hockey player, he hasn't fared much better. Shipped out of Vancouver with that most dreaded of stigmas, "the locker-room cancer," a flop at the Olympics, little success in Florida and not much better results in Detroit.

As much as a person may despise him for his actions, it appears Bertuzzi has suffered emotionally, will continue to do so and no doubt will take a huge and well deserved financial hit. It's clear he has not forgiven himself for an incident that, by degrees, was barely outside of standard conduct in the NHL. However, Burke may just be able to convince Bertuzzi of the benefits of shamelessly moving on at all costs for the good it can bring to himself and others. If Bertuzzi can learn the trick that separates those who put trauma behind them to those who are forever defined by it, he may have a second chance at being an impact player in the NHL. If Burke can help him say goodbye to the person he once was, the dreams he once had and the way he viewed the world, it could be an interesting season for Bertuzzi. If not, it will be more fodder for those who will forever loathe Bertuzzi and secretly delight in having someone to so starkly rank themselves against.

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