Detroit Red Wings' Tyler Bertuzzi calls refusing COVID-19 vaccine 'a life choice'

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TRAVERSE CITY — Tyler Bertuzzi explained his reasoning for refusing the COVID-19 vaccine as a “life choice.”

HIs decision means he cannot play in the nine games the Detroit Red Wings are in Canada because of border restrictions, but Bertuzzi doesn’t sound like he will be inclined to change his mind.

“It’s a personal choice, freedom of choice, and life choice,” Bertuzzi said Thursday after participating in the first day of training camp at Centre Ice Arena. “It’s a personal choice, and I made it.”

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Bertuzzi, 26, said he made his decision with “family and fiancée's family. It’s personal choice. It’s personal.” Bertuzzi announced on social media earlier this month that his fiancee, Ashley Greasley, are expecting their first baby.

Detroit Red Wings forward Tyler Bertuzzi, Sept. 23, 2021.
Detroit Red Wings forward Tyler Bertuzzi, Sept. 23, 2021.

Teams cannot mandate a player be vaccinated, but they suspend him without pay for missing hockey activities. Bertuzzi would miss upwards of $400,000 because he cannot play in Canada.

General manager Steve Yzerman revealed Wednesday that Bertuzzi, a top-line forward, is the only Wings player to not be vaccinated.

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"It's his decision,” Yzerman said. “I am not in a position to force anyone. We can't force anyone to get vaccinated. I personally am vaccinated, my family is vaccinated. I'll leave it at that.”

Bertuzzi has not played since leaving a game in January with a back injury. He underwent surgery in April, and was enthused to be back at a practice.

“I'm feeling really good,” Bertuzzi said. “I think I’m cleared and throughout camp I will be getting bumped and hit. I was really happy with my progress and my recovery. I stayed in Detroit all summer, worked out and skated. I feel really good.”

Contact Helene St. James at hstjames@freepress.com. Follow her on Twitter @helenestjames. Read more on the Detroit Red Wings and sign up for our Red Wings newsletter. Her book, The Big 50: The Detroit Red Wings is available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Triumph Books. Personalized copies available via her e-mail.

This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Detroit Red Wings' Tyler Bertuzzi: My choice to refuse COVID vaccine