Thu Jun 17 09:55am EDT
There are times when, as hockey fans, we're completely OK with our sport owning a happy little niche in the U.S. sports media. Can you imagine the Todd Bertuzzi(notes) saga, now in its sixth year, playing out in a league that gets exponentially more ESPN face-time?
For example: If an NFL player attacked an opponent and ended his career; received a massive suspension; continued playing in the league as a veteran vagabond while lawsuits moved through civil courts; and then has an active lawsuit against the coach of a viable conference rival to his team.
Again: Thank God we're hockey.
Bertuzzi re-upped with the Detroit Red Wings on Wednesday for two years; the Detroit Free Press puts the contract at $2.25 million the first year and $1.625 million the second year. He made $1.5 million against the cap last season. From the Freep, here's general manager Ken Holland, who also signed an extension (5 years) with the Wings this week:
"Mike Babcock and I were really happy with what Bert brought to the team," general manager Ken Holland said. "He brought a nice physical dimension, worked hard at being in front of the net and was a good fit in the locker room."
Also happy? Steve Moore's lawyer. Somewhat mixed emotions, Red Wings fans?
George Malik has a nice roundup of media reactions to Bertuzzi's signing. Like in the rest of the hockey world, Bertuzzi is a divisive figure in Detroit. Winging It In Motown reacted thusly to the deal:
Honestly, the deal is a little disappointing because it just doesn't seem like Bertuzzi did enough to get a raise. Sure he scored 18 goals, but he went long stretches without producing and didn't do so until he played with one of the top units. Still, I can live with the deal because there is still plenty of cap space to re-sign guys like Darren Helm(notes) and Patrick Eaves(notes). Here's hoping Big Bert earns every penny.
He had 11 points in 12 playoff games, which isn't too shabby.
Nightmare on Helm Street wants fans to suck it up and accept the Bert:
Bertuzzi played more of a two-way game last season than he ever did in his career. I remember all of the Calgary blogs talking about how he played a "drop-in style" of hockey and wouldn't even be seen over our own blue line at times. Well, that just wasn't the case and I think that the defensive aspects of his game may improve even more with a full year in the system under his belt.
He scored a few clutch goals for us and was money in shoot outs. He's a Red Wing for the rest of his career, so get used to it, peeps.
Matt Saler of On The Wings likes the deal from a cap perspective, and offers this opinionated headline "Wings Fans, You Have Your Whipping Boy For Two More Years."
That's the Bertuzzi, NHL Player reaction; what about the Bertuzzi, Defendant and Litigant reaction?
The signing gave Moore's lawyer Tim Danson a chance to remind everyone about the stakes at play here. Moore is seeking $38 million in damages for the 2004 attack, while Bertuzzi is suing Dallas Stars coach Marc Crawford to cover any awards to Moore because he alleges Crawford ordered the Code Red.
The big news this week, via David Shoalts at the Globe & Mail, is that Bertuzzi isn't covered by the Vancouver Canucks' insurance policy for damages, while Crawford has roughly $11 million in coverage for damages and fees.
From the Globe, here's what this insurance situation could mean for the league going forward:
While it is clear there is an exception in the team's policy, the reason is not clear. Some involved in professional hockey say that while acts of negligence are covered, criminal or willfully violent acts are not. Others say the exception covers all player-versus-player incidents because there are simply so many of them, ranging from routine physical play to accidental and intentional encounters that can leave one player seriously injured. One source familiar with the policy said insurance companies do not want to get into the tricky business of either writing policies to take all the variables into account or facing constant payouts for damages.
Moore's lawyer, Tim Danson, said Wednesday that the lack of coverage should get the attention of every professional hockey player.
"All of the money Bertuzzi earns in his career is exposed and he has to pay his own lawyer," Danson said. "This sends a strong message to all players."
And that part of that message is: You will continue playing in this league for as long as you can and for as much as you can when someone's suing you for $38 million, knowing that your paycheck may not even be yours.