Tyler Bertuzzi has undergone surgery for the second time in two months and will miss six weeks this time — a significant loss for the Detroit Red Wings and a potential stumbling block to his future with the team.
That’s the injury update coach Derek Lalonde delivered Friday morning, as the Red Wings prepared to move onwith Saturday’s game against the Vegas Golden Knights.
“He had successful surgery this morning and will be out about six weeks,” Lalonde said. “Upper body, very similar to the injury he had previously.
“You feel for him. He’s trying to get his game back in order and has a setback. Bad luck for him.”
Bertuzzi was injured with four minutes to go in the third period of Wednesday’s 5-4 shootout loss against the Buffalo Sabres, when he was hit in the left hand by a point shot taken by teammate Ben Chiarot. In the second game of the season, Bertuzzi broke a hand blocking a shot, had surgery, and missed a month.
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Bertuzzi being sidelined another stretch doesn’t help with contract negotiations, which are edging closer to the March 3 trade deadline. The Wings have Bertuzzi, 27, slotted to make in the $6.5 million range, and if a deal does not materialize before then, general manager Steve Yzerman is expected to trade Bertuzzi rather than risk losing him to unrestricted free agency for nothing.
While Bertuzzi only playing nine games this season is not ideal, his résumé does include scoring 30 goals last season and topping 20 goals in back-to-back seasons early in his career.
Bertuzzi had a goal and two assists in seven games between the injuries.
“It’s tough. I just feel for him,” Dylan Larkin said. “The team, we are going to miss him. We are going to have to find a way, like we have, to take a step. All of us need to step up to fill in for what he brings.
“I feel for him. I feel like he was just getting his legs back and getting back into the swing of things and then it happens again. It’s unfortunate news, but we are going to have to find a way to fill the void.”
Austin Czarnik arrived from the Grand Rapids Griffins to take part in Friday’s practice, skating on a line with Joe Veleno and Jonatan Berggren. Larkin practiced with Dominik Kubalik and David Perron; Michael Rasmussen was with Pius Suter and Lucas Raymond, and Andrew Copp with Adam Erne and Oskar Sundqvist.
Bertuzzi plays on the first or second line and on the power play, and those are big minutes to fill.
“It’s a gaping hole within our top six, but we’ve had some experience with it now and we’ve had some success with him out of our lineup,” Lalonde said. “So, we are going to be just fine on the team side of it.”
Contact Helene St. James at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @helenestjames.