I recently received an email from my father, who lives in Calgary, that had steam oozing from it as I viewed it in my inbox.
The subject line was: Sutter’s Last Stand.
I had just talked to my dad the day before, but it was prior to the news of the Flames signing unrestricted free agent Todd Bertuzzi. Hockey fans don’t know my father, but they surely recognize his voice. He’s the first guy to start the booing whenever Bertuzzi touched the puck as a member of the opposition at the Pengrowth Saddledome.
And Bertuzzi was booed in Calgary like no other building, Colorado’s Pepsi Center included. Even before the infamous Steve Moore incident from 2004, Bertuzzi was disliked in Calgary. His abrasive style, pouting/scowling mug and his great offensive success with the Vancouver Canucks made him an easy target of Calgary fans.
So to see Bertuzzi become a Flame last week was too much for a lot of them to handle, my father included. He’s always mad at Bertuzzi, that’s no surprise. Now he’s furious with GM Darryl Sutter for having the nerve to sign Big Bert.
Here’s what my dad wrote in the email:
“How do you take a classy organization that fans can be proud to support and turn it into a low-class franchise that puts no value on the character of the person wearing the team’s uniform? Here’s how – you release Rhett Warrener and you sign Todd Bertuzzi. Then you have your GM justify this act of stupidity by comparing his speeding ticket to Steve Moore’s broken neck and, as a clincher, you get Iginla going public and endorsing the goon! The old cowboy (Sutter) just crapped in his own barn!”
My dad isn’t alone in this thinking. The Calgary Herald reported a survey by Calgarypuck.com that posted the following results: I'm done as a Flames fan (8.04%); I don't like it, but I'll live with it (56.26%); I love it, great addition (35.70%).
In my response email to my father, I explained that all of us deserve another chance, Bertuzzi still has the credentials to contribute on the top two lines, the Flames lost Alex Tanguay, Kristian Huselius and Owen Nolan from the top two lines so there’s a definite opening, and Iginla isn’t the type of quality individual who would endorse this signing if he didn’t really mean it. Give Bertuzzi a chance.
I haven’t heard back from my dad since. I hope it’s just because it’s Stampede week. I’ll know for sure if next time I call he starts booing me.
Brian Costello is The Hockey News’s senior special editions editor and a regular contributor to THN.com. You can read his Top 10 list on Wednesdays and his blog each weekend.
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