DETROIT – Todd Bertuzzi wanted to end his NHL career as a Detroit Red Wing and now he’s going to be able to do it.
Bertuzzi signed a two-year deal, which has a no-trade clause, with the Wings worth a salary-cap hit of $2.075 million a season.
“It’s pretty awesome,” said Bertuzzi, who will earn $1.975 the first year and $2.175 million in the second year. “When it was brought up to me to stay here it was a no brainier. I wanted to stay here. It’s fun to come down to this rink every night.
“I’ve always enjoyed, even as a visitor, coming in and playing in this arena,” Bertuzzi added. “I was just fortunate the second go around to get a call back from Kenny (Holland) and to comeback and play. It’s been a really good fit for myself.”
The Wings first got Bertuzzi, who just turned 37, prior to the trade deadline in 2007. After that season, he signed a two-year deal with Anaheim before returning back to Detroit after that contract ran out.
“He’s been a real good player for us, has scored in the mid-40s every year, he gives us a presence of size,” Holland said. “He’s obviously a guy who has found good chemistry for the last couple of months with Pavel and Mule. I think he’s training harder now then he did earlier in his career like a lot of players do. He’s happy here and at the end of the day, we had talked about a one-year deal at a higher number or a two-year deal at a lower number, I think the way he skates and the way he trains the two years didn’t bother me because it was a cap number that we thought was good for our team and he liked the term.”
Bertuzzi, who was in the final year of a deal that paid him just under $2 million, has played on the Wings’ top line, along with Pavel Datsyuk and Johan Franzen, after missing six games earlier this season with a back injury.
He has 12 goals and 17 assists in 54 games this season and is a plus-21, which is the second best plus-minus rating amongst the forwards. Franzen leads the forwards at a plus-26.
“The body feels good, obviously playing with Pav and Franzen has given me some jump in my step,” Bertuzzi said. “It’s nice to get done now the main focus is get ready for the playoffs and winning a Cup.
“It’s the place I want to stay and play,” Bertuzzi added. “When Kenny and Pat (Morris) figured out two years was doable it was an easy decision for myself to accept. I like flying under the radar here, with the amount of talent we have and the emergence of (Valtteri) Filppula and the play of (Jiri) Hudler it’s an easy fit. Just go out do your job, work hard and try and get as much as you can. Just get to the corners and get the puck to them and let them do their thing.”
Bertuzzi was taken with the 23rd overall pick by the New York Islanders in the 1993 NHL Entry Draft.
In 2004, while playing with Vancouver, Bertuzzi punched Colorado’s Steve Moore from behind in retaliation for an earlier hit by Moore on teammate Markus Naslund. Moore was forced to retire because of injuries sustained after the attack.
Bertuzzi was suspended indefinitely by the league. He was reinstated in August 2005. He still faces a civil lawsuit which is scheduled to reach court this fall.