Sports-fans are cruel, but NHL fans are the worst. I remember not so long after the Steve Moore incident, when people were calling for Bertuzzi’s head, Flames fans were amongst the most extreme bunch. Everyone in Calgary hated him, labelling him as a genuinely evil person, and that he should never be allowed to play hockey forever.
Fast-forward four years, and four teams later, we see Bertuzzi in the Saddledome wearing a Flames jersey. The off-season acquistion by Darryl Sutter created a lot of controversies, I remember hearing an angry Flames fan calling this move a disgrace to the tradition of the team. The moderates of the bunch call this move a lost cause, that Bertuzzi has passed his prime, and he will just create problems for the team in the dressing room.
Now, 12 games into the season, Todd Bertuzzi is the scoring leader of the Flames, with 7 goals and 2 assists. Suddenly, he’s become a fan favorite, check out some of the comments I found in forum.calgarypuck.com:
“…Bertuzzi has been the best Flames forward this season…He works hard on the backcheck and gets to the body. Offensively, he is creating chances entirely on his own. He is also doing something we rarely saw from Flames forwards the last couple years, charging the net with regularity. His presence is definitely felt around that net. He has incredible hands too.” – calgARI
“He has definitely been the #1 PLAYER for the Flames these three games…Bertuzzi looks revitalized in a lot of ways. He is playing rough, tough, and mean.” – HPLovecraft
“Bert’s a nice guy who made a mistake…Sometimes we don’t know how people are when they are on different teams. When they play in Calgary, that’s when we find out.” – GirlySports
So, now everyone likes Bertuzzi in Calgary, and I seriously don’t think it’s because he and his wife carved pumpkins for sick kids during Halloween (Google it, if you don’t know what I am talking about). They like him now, because he’s scoring goals for the team. Plain and simple. I rest my case on why NHL fans are cruel.
I mean, it was afterall just a hit, hockey is a physical sport, one that doesn’t just allow on-ice fighting, but embraces it as representing the true spirit of the sport. Bertuzzi made a mistake, I still believe he did what he did in the heat of the moment. The team may have talked about it, partly joking, partly to get the spirit up high by establishing the Avs as their nemesis. Bertuzzi never intended serious harm to the kid, if you re-look at the video, part of the injury were caused by the Avs teammates jumping on top of Todd.
But anyways, it doesn’t really matter what I think now, he’s doing well in Calgary, that’s all that matters. I’m just glad for the guy, and I think with his current performance, and his charitable work in Calgary, he’s beginning to silence a lot of his critics. As for those who still think they are better than him, or that he’s just an evil evil man, I think the following photo pretty much sums it up.