The Free Press’s Helene St. James wraps something of a bow on the Tyler Bertuzzi situation by offering some quotes from his friend and teammate, Dylan Larkin, as well as Bertuzzi’s coach:
“It’s his choice,” captain and close friend Dylan Larkin said. “Tyler has looked into it, weighed all of his options. It was his choice not to get it. Tyler’s very popular in our room, he’s a very big part of our locker room. We’re going to miss him on the ice, we’re going to miss him in the locker room when he’s not able to play, but he has our support, I guess you could say. We are just going to miss him when he’s not there. We are going to have to find a way, you can’t think about it too much. You have to find ways to move on and be ready to play.”
Larkin said he and Bertuzzi talked about the situation over the summer. “He’s explained it to me. Tyler has thought a lot about it. I know that there’s a lot of support for him making his own decision, but there is also a part that everybody knows we are going to miss him when he can’t play.”
Bertuzzi is the team’s grittiest player and one of their most effective. He appeared in only nine games last season before being sidelined by a back injury, and recorded five goals and two assists. The first game he’ll miss because of border restrictions for unvaccinated people is Oct. 23 at Montreal, the Wings’ first road game of the season.
“Tyler is a player I love as a person, love as a player,” coach Jeff Blashill said. “I’m a big fan of Tyler. He’s a great teammate. The NHL allowed our players to make decisions on this, and that’s the decision Tyler made and we respect it. Obviously we’d love to have everybody vaccinated because then you don’t lose anybody, but I certainly respect the decision. How will I handle it? Other guys will get opportunity when he cannot play. There’s not a whole lot more to the story than that.”
Continued; in a game where blood and spit are shared between players, I’m sticking by my guns here in suggesting that Bertuzzi’s fear of the needle is simply a case of not doing his job as a teammate, and, as the coach says, other people will earn opportunities because of it.