The Detroit News’s Ted Kulfan filed a locker room clean-out day article today, and it’s expertly-timed: the Grand Rapids Griffins desperately, desperately miss Tyler Bertuzzi…
But the wiry forechecking forward also desperately needs to add some extra muscle to his listed 6,’ 190-pound frame (subtract 10 or 15 pounds, and you probably get a better handle on Bertuzzi’s weight class) to better compete for pucks in corners and win physical battles along the boards.
Bertuzzi and Wings coach Jeff Blashill spoke with Kulfan regarding the trade-offs involved in choosing to give Bertuzzi, the outgoing AHL playoff MVP, more time in the gym instead of more time in the AHL:
“The positive in this case is he gets at least an extra month of getting after it in training,” coach Jeff Blashill said when the Red Wings broke for the offseason. “My (advice) to him was you have to get bigger, stronger, faster. Find a strength and sprinting coach that can help you do those things. Get a skating coach that is going to help you get that much quicker. If he can do those things, he’ll be that much a better player next year.”
It was obvious listening to Bertuzzi the final days of the regular season, going to Grand Rapids would be just fine.
Certainly it wouldn’t feel like a chore or demotion. The Griffins have a tight group, and Bertuzzi has quite a few friends he communicates with.
“I still have a lot of good buddies down there,” Bertuzzi said. “It stinks obviously not going down to battle with them in playoffs, but I kind of want to focus on a good summer and coming back to training camp ready.”
Bertuzzi has been limited the past two summers while recovering from grueling Griffins playoff runs.
“I’ve been kind of hurt to start the summer and that kind of delayed training,” Bertuzzi said. “Last year we made a long playoff run and I was hurt. This is a big opportunity for me to take advantage of a long summer in the gym.”
Kulfan continues, and I know that one of Bertuzzi’s off-season injuries was an infected hand from a tooth-incurred cut suffered during the Calder Cup Final, and it was fairly advanced at the time.
He played with far more injuries than the sore wrist that prevented him from skating last September and October, and because he plays so hard, I get the feeling that the Wings were worried that he’d get banged-up simply by default if he participated in an AHL playoff run.