TROY – Todd Bertuzzi has been through this before.
However, the last time the NHL locked its players out Bertuzzi was in his late 20s. This time around, the Wings forward is 37.
“It’s not ideal,” said Bertuzzi, who will turn 38 in February. “I hear some people say sometimes it benefits the older players. I don’t think it really does. I think you’ve got to be consistently playing, being active.”
Bertuzzi was back in Troy with a few of his teammates skating at Troy Sports Center as they continue to wait word on a new collective bargaining agreement.
“You usually train for two and a half months in the summer and then after that you just maintain and do a little bit more,” Bertuzzi said. “Going on three months right now with training, it gets kind of Groundhog Dayish.”
The players have skating on their own since the league locked them out at midnight on Sept. 16. Both sides are scheduled to meet on Friday.
This is the third lockout under NHL commissioner Gary Bettman.
The first, in 1994-95, ended after 103 days. The last time the league locked the players out it resulted in the cancellation of the 2004-05 season.
Bertuzzi was with the Vancouver Canucks that last lockout, coming off a 60-point season the year before. He returned after the lockout and had 71 points in 82 games.
“It’s been how many days already? I’m dragging my ass here right now,” Bertuzzi said. “We’ve got a good group of guys, we keep it light, we get the work done that we need, but at the same time it’s always tough when you don’t know what the unknown is, what lies ahead. You’ve got to try to keep yourself busy. I’m trying to occupy my time with doing stuff with my family and doing stuff like that.”
The league has already cancelled preseason games through the end of September and the remainder of the preseason should be cancelled this week.
The Wings, who were scheduled to report to training camp in Traverse City on Sept. 21, are supposed to open the regular season at home against the Nashville Predators on Oct. 12.
The NHL season opens on Oct. 11.
“I think we’re all pretty much prepared for that,” said Bertuzzi when asked about the season not starting on time. “It’s tough. I feel bad for the employees that work, I feel bad for people that run the rink, the fans, it’s not an ideal situation, especially for us in Detroit, we’re trying to get our city back up and moving and I don’t think it’s doing it any justice.
“The fact we have the Winter Classic coming in, Comerica Park was going to be packed for a week,” Bertuzzi added. “That was just an instant injection into our city. I’d hate to see that go by without anything happening.”
There has been talk the league may cancel the Winter Classic, which is scheduled to be held on New Year’s Day at the University of Michigan, as early as November if a new deal can’t be reached.
“That’s one thing I’ve always wanted to play in,” Bertuzzi said. “To me, that would be something pretty tough to miss. At the same time, both sides will miss out so we’ve got to figure this out once and for all and the right way.
“That week in downtown Detroit, that’s a lot of people coming from Canada, coming from all over the states, spending a full week in downtown Detroit,” Bertuzzi continued. “It’s going to be an unbelievable atmosphere. You’ve got the Junior games, my kid’s games, you’ve got the AHL games, alumni games, there’s a lot at stake with this game. It would be real unfortunate if it went by and you had to wait a whole year for it to maybe come back again.”