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Todd Bertuzzi & Westcoast Express line - NOV.27.07


Nancy Henderson

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<table width=90% align=center border=0><tr><td><img src=http://cdn.nhl.com/canucks/images/upload/2007/09/henderson_headshot.jpg align=left hspace=4>The big guy has returned. No, I’m not referring to the Santa Claus Parade. We are unlikely to get a jolly ho-ho-ho out of Todd Bertuzzi.

I must admit, old number 44 would be on the list of my all-time favourite Canucks. I am certainly not sorry about the move that sent him away and brought Roberto to us, but I supported Todd through the various times that other fans were demanding a trade, including back in 2001 when he received a 10 game suspension for leaving the bench to join Jovo in a brawl. Said punishment marked a turnaround in Bert, and led to the magical era of the high flying Westcoast Express line.

I miss those days when Todd was merely a cartoon supervillain with soft hands and thundering bodychecks that terrorized defencemen around the league. I loved the thinly veiled contempt, the death stares and the quotable quotes. I loved the stark contrast of his glowering dark presence to that of our fair-haired Swedish captain. I loved the glorious plays, the passes, the goals and the joyous celebrations. And frankly, none of the sad days that followed have dampened my enthusiasm.

<a href=http://cdn.nhl.com/canucks/images/upload/2007/11/bertuzzicanuck03_b.jpg target=_blank><img src=http://cdn.nhl.com/canucks/images/upload/2007/11/bertuzzicanuck03_t.jpg border=0 align=right vspace=1 hspace=4></a>I was there to join the tremendous cheer that greeted Todd the moment he stepped on the ice at the Pacific Coliseum for the Brad May charity game during the lockout. I hope he gets cheered tonight. I hope he had a chance to enjoy his favourite sushi while he was in town. And I hope his new team loses the game.

Meanwhile, it’s a burden being right, but one I frequently must bear. It seems I have been the only sports scribe in town with a continuing faith in Markus Naslund. Buckets of ink have been spilled during the last week, discussing the remarkable resurgence of the captain.

Oh please. All along I said that the problem was the lack of equally talented line-mates. I suspect that if you saddled Daniel Alfredsson or Joe Sakic with lesser linemates, those captains would not exactly be lighting it up either. Add to that the double whammy of demanding rigorous attention to defensive responsibility and you have a recipe for a scorer who begins to doubt his own abilities. But it sure has been a pleasure to once again watch Nazzy fire in beautiful goals off the rush.

<a href=http://cdn.nhl.com/canucks/images/upload/2007/11/bertuzzicanuck02_b.jpg target=_blank><img src=http://cdn.nhl.com/canucks/images/upload/2007/11/bertuzzicanuck02_t.jpg border=0 align=left vspace=1 hspace=4></a>And c’mon, you had to love the whole Pinky and the Brain thing, especially the decisive answering performance of the Sedins and their fearless leader in Minny. Being compared to genetically altered lab mice was perhaps the most intriguing thing to ever happen to the Twins – it finally got them noticed around the NHL water cooler. “Are you thinking what I’m thinking Danny?” “I think so Henrik, but where are we going to find puffy hockey pants and ten pounds of Swedish meatballs at this hour? Narf!!” Still, I think the cartoon rodents that the Sedins most resemble are Chip and Dale, those obsequious chipmunks: “I insist, Daniel, you take the shot”. “No, no Hank, after you”.

Hey, they can be robotic ferrets for all I care. As long as they keep playing like they have been playing.

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