Call Tyler Bertuzzi any adjective you like: rat, instigator, pest, s!*t disturber, or just an old fashioned pain in the ass. However, don’t be shocked when the Detroit Red Wings second-round pick seems to revel in all of the abuse.
After all this isn’t Bertuzzi’s first rodeo. At this point the 19-year-old Guelph Storm forward has just about seen and heard it all.
However, it’s not just opponents dishing out the hate. In the Storm’s OHL final series versus North Bay some irate Batallion fans showed their displeasure with Bertuzzi by showering him with beer.
Maybe I’m wrong, but I have a feeling that beer isn’t much of a deterrent for Tyler Bertuzzi. Before dousing Bertuzzi with suds these fans should have considered the words of late comedian Mitch Hedberg who said: “Don’t throw a tomato at a band. Cuz what if they really like tomatoes? They’ll think your enjoying them.”
Ultimately, in a year when Anthony Mantha has grabbed all the headlines, Bertuzzi has asserted himself as another promising Detroit Red Wings prospect. And, it’s no longer just his Sean Avery style smack talk that has people’s attention.
The Brad Marchand Comparison
With his performance at the Memorial Cup Tyler Bertuzzi has served notice that there is much more to his game then simply driving his opponents to madness. There’s no doubt that Bertuzzi’s super pest ways are what originally linked him to the likes of Brad Marchand and Andrew Shaw.
However, three years into his junior career Bertuzzi has turned himself into a complete player who head coach Scott Walker can depend upon in all situations. As Walker tells Neate Seager of Yahoo Sports he feels Bertuzzi plays a pivotal role for his hockey club:
“He’s a rambunctious guy but he’s a lot of energy. His teammates get a lot of energy from him. The fans in the other barns hate him.”They’re focusing on him. The crowd is focusing on him. He plays a very important role.”
One obvious similarity between Marchand and Bertuzzi is their lack of size. Yet, in spite of his size, Marchand has transformed himself into one of the most productive forwards on the Bruins.
Bertuzzi’s conversion from troublemaker to points maker has already begun. He led the 2014 Memorial Cup with 5 goals and his quick, powerful release is another improvement he’s made to his game.
Whether you like it or not a penchant for embellishing is another trait Marchand and Bertuzzi share. Nonetheless, there’s no exaggerating the fact that like Marchand, Bertuzzi has all the tools to be a quality NHL player.
Is Tyler Bertuzzi NHL Ready Now?
During their Memorial Cup coverage Sportsnet’s Damien Cox said that he believes Bertuzzi is NHL ready. I completely disagree with Damien on this point.
Sure, Bertuzzi’s performance in the Memorial Cup was impressive, but I still don’t think he’s ready to make the jump to the Detroit Red Wings. For starters, Bertuzzi needs to bulk up his wirey 6 foot 1 and 187 pound frame.
With his aggravating, hard-edged style of play Bertuzzi will have a bullseye on his back when he does enter the NHL. Some extra muscle would help in fending off bigger, stronger professionals.
Secondly, there are plenty of Wings observers who believe that even CHL player of the year Anthony Mantha will be forced to spend a year with the Grand Rapids Griffins. Detroit is famous for letting their best prospects marinate in the minors for at least a year or two.
Tyler Bertuzzi won’t have an opportunity to play with Uncle Todd. As I see it he’s probably at least two seasons away from having a legitimate shot at joining the Wings.
But, when Bertuzzi does join the big club don’t be shocked if he’s a doppelganger for number 63 in black and gold.