MONTREAL — Even as they enjoy a family side of their job, the business side lingers for Detroit Red Wings forwards Dylan Larkin and Tyler Bertuzzi.
Each had their dads along for the quick trip that segued from Thursday’s outing at the Montreal Canadiens to Friday’s at the New York Islanders. The other men playing a big role in the lives of Larkin and Bertuzzi right now are their agents, as both players are in the final years of their contracts.
“I just try and show up to the rink every day and be myself and play the game hard,” Larkin said after Thursday’s morning skate at Bell Centre. “I try not to look at it and let my agent do it. It’s nothing anyone can really do about it, at least on my view of things. When something happens, there are conversations, there’s talk. But I’ve been trying to just focus on playing.”
Bertuzzi said he isn’t so much frustrated about where contracts are at but rather, “being hurt all the time.”
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Bertuzzi missed significant time recovering from two hand surgeries, and most recently dealt with a lower-body injury. That has made it hard to settle the money and terms of a new deal, and increased the probability general manager Steve Yzerman trades Bertuzzi, 27, ahead of the March 3 deadline. It’s also been a challenge for coach Derek Lalonde, who knows Bertuzzi scored 30 goals last season but also has seen how sloppy he can be with the puck.
“He’s got such a good stick,” Lalonde said. “But he leads us in turnovers in all three zones, and I just think that’s the pace being on top of him. If he gets in his rhythm, those get limited. It’s been a tough go for him. I don’t think it will take him long to get to that 30-goal form, but he needs to get some reps and rhythms.
“I like him with Larks and (Lucas) Raymond, I think all three like playing with each other, and like the chemistry. But Bert gets in there and that chemistry and rhythm get lost with his inability to manage the puck.”
If Bertuzzi isn’t dealt, the sides could settle on a one-year extension.
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Yzerman has offered Larkin, 26, eight years and $64 million, but Larkin’s side can use the eight-year, $73.2 million ($9.15 million annual average value) deal the Islanders gave Mathew Barzal in October as an example in countering.
One thing Larkin has learned as he deals with the uncertainty? Log off.
“I think the biggest part is being off social media,” he said. “It’s a place where people say whatever and they can not show their face or have their name or have anything associated to it, so it’s really not a valid source of information. There are certain people you can pay attention to, like the members of the media, but I don’t read it too much. I try not to let it affect me.”
Nor does Larkin feel awkwardness around Yzerman, the man on the other side of the negotiating table.
“It doesn’t seem like there are any hard feelings, it is just the way it is going,” Larkin said. “With Steve, I don’t really expect anything else. It’s been very professional and we’ve had a lot of conversations about the team and certain things that come up during a season with guys or whatever it may be. It’s been pretty status quo.”
Contact Helene St. James at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @helenestjames.
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Her latest book, “On the Clock: Behind the Scenes with the Detroit Red Wings at the NHL Draft,” is available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Triumph Books. Personalized copies available via her e-mail.