Tyler Bertuzzi certainly has evoked some range of emotion this year from Red Wings fans this season. One thing that has certainly divided the fan base has been his decision on vaccination. But another, which cropped up after he signed his extension back in July, was will he show the goal scoring touch he had last season before injury derailed it?
The answer is a resounding yes. Through 26 games, Bertuzzi has 24 points (15-9) and has cemented a line with Lucas Raymond and Dylan Larkin that is one of the best in the NHL. From outward appearances on the ice, he’s beloved by his teammates. Head coach Jeff Blashill said as much in an article from MLive’s Ansar Khan back in October. And remember, Bertuzzi missed several games because of his decision on vaccination:
First off, our guys love Tyler Bertuzzi. He’s a great teammate,” Blashill said. “I’ve loved coaching him. He’s somebody that comes to work every day. He’s got great character. At the end of the day, the players were allowed to make a decision and that’s the decision he’s made. We all respect that. So, we just treat it more like it’s just a time when a player’s missing. They can be missing for a multitude of reasons throughout a season — injuries, personal reasons, sickness — and at this point, he’s out.
Regardless of what any one opinion is about him, Bertuzzi is a key component of the Red Wings locker room.
Bertuzzi is a Key Piece to the Puzzle
The team is simply better with Bertuzzi in the lineup. He’s shown it this year and based on his numbers, the $4.25M AAV deal looks like a bargain if he continues to pile up points and goals, especially with Steve Yzerman likely adding more ammo to the roster down the road.
It doesn’t mean Yzerman is going to forever hold on to him–certainly things can change. But there’s no denying, especially after seeing it again last night, Bertuzzi is a catalyst for energy on this roster. From his celebrations, to his willingness to go after opponents that rile up his teammates, to even how he is the first to go for the puck after an accolade for a teammate, Bertuzzi is a guy you want on your roster.
Will other teams ask about him or want a player of his caliber on their team? Of course. Is he even available? Anything is possible when Yzerman is running the organization.
But with this season as another indicator, with a fuller sample size than the last, there’s no denying that Bertuzzi is worth every cent of his new deal. He’s also a critical piece in getting the Red Wings to the next level.