CALGARY – Todd Bertuzzi was formally introduced to the Calgary media Tuesday and oddly enough – the burly right-winger, who has had more than his fill of public attention – was actually smiling.
After stints in Florida, Detroit and Anaheim – Bertuzzi, 33, says he is looking forward to playing back in Canada even with the attention that goes with it.
“Here you can’t go five or 10 games without a point without anyone noticing and there you can go under the radar a little bit,” Bertuzzi said. “That’s one thing that I think is going to benefit not just myself but this team. I think you are under the gun here and under the pressure of having to perform.”
Bertuzzi is under no illusions about his popularity back here in Canada and especially here in Calgary, largely due to his infamous attack on Steve Moore in March 2004 which ended Moore’s career.
“Obviously I’m well aware I wasn’t the most popular pickup in Calgary Flame history but at the same time I think you’ve got to give it a little time and give me a chance,” he offered. “I can’t lie to you it’s not the jersey I thought I was going to wear, but at the same time I played enough games here to know what kind of fan base and what kind of team they are.”
Bertuzzi was once one of the NHL’s premier power forwards, collecting 97 points with the Vancouver Canucks in 2002-03. He had 40 points (14-26) in 68 games with the Ducks last season.
“In Anaheim I thought it was going to be a good opportunity but I just didn’t fit into the mode there with ice time – playing 10 to 12 minutes a game, it’s kind of hard to perform.”
Centre Mike Cammalleri also expects to benefit from a change of scene after being picked up in a trade from the Los Angeles Kings. Cammalleri, 26, had 47 points (19-28) with Los Angeles last year and is expected to help fill the offensive void left by the departure of Alex Tanguay to Montreal.
As a throng of reporters and cameras surrounded the new players, he seemed amazed at the attention.
“We were over there and they were taking pictures and the only time I’ve seen this was in L.A. when we got on a red carpet once in a while – not at the rink,” he chuckled.
“I said to Todd does this remind you of Vancouver a little bit? He said yeah, here we go again.”
Cammalleri, who was once thought to be part of the King’s long-term plans, said it’s been a long time since he has been on a Canadian team.
“I haven’t played a home game on Canadian soil since I was 16 years old, so I think the whole idea of Canadian’s knowledge of the game – their love, their passion for the sport is how I grew up,” he said.
“It certainly strikes a chord with me.”
Bertuzzi, along with Cammalleri and the other recent acquisitions to the team – Rene Bourque, Curtis Glencross and Andre Roy – hope they can get the Flames over the hump next season.
“I’m just gonna come in and put myself in a good position to be successful with my conditioning. This team has been there right from the past five, six seven years,” Bertuzzi said.
“It’s been on the brink and I think that I’m capable of coming in and helping out and contributing to them.”