Kulfan, HSJ discuss Tyler Bertuzzi’s absence

The Detroit Red Wings play 3 of their next 6 games in Canada, so they’ll be missing Tyler Bertuzzi for a significant period of time due to his decision to not be vaccinated against COVID-19, and Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill discussed how the team will adjust to the absence of #59 while speaking with the Detroit News’s Ted Kulfan…

“In game 2 (against Vancouver) we were missing Larks (Dylan Larkin for a suspension),” said coach Jeff Blashill, using the Larkin example. “You make your line adjustments and certainly Tyler is a big part of our team and of who we are. He’s a real good player, but the extent you miss Tyler depends how the guys who fill some of those responsibilities play. If they play great, then the loss is less then if they don’t play great. Certainly we’ll be excited to get Tyler back tomorrow (Sunday in Chicago) but tonight we’ll have 20 guys dressed good enough to win the hockey game and we have to go out and execute at a high level.”

Blashill elected to slide Robby Fabbri into Bertuzzi’s spot on a line with Larkin and Lucas Raymond, while Carter Rowney drew into the lineup.

“Fabbs, for me, has been outstanding from day one of training camp in terms of his competitiveness, he has a high compete level, he’s got skill and has some of the attributes that Bert brings to the table in terms of going to get pucks and ability to score,” Blashill said. “We think it’s the most natural guy going to that line. He and Raymond have played together and played well, and Fabs centered that line when Larks was out.  We think it gives us a good piece up there.”

Bertuzzi’s decision to not get the shots, said Blashill, doesn’t bring any hard feelings among teammates.

“Our guys love Tyler Bertuzzi, he’s a great teammate, and as a coaching staff I’ve loved coaching him,” Blashill said. “He’s somebody that comes to work every day. He has great character. Players were allowed to make a decision and that’s the decision he’s made and we’ll accept that and treat it as when a player is missing and a player could be missing for a multitude of reasons. For us, it’s not a big story. We’ll play a hockey game and try to win with the 20 (players) we have.”

And the Free Press’s Helene St. James….

The NHL and the Players Association agreed not to have a vaccine mandate, but teams can suspend without pay players cannot participate in club activities because they are not vaccinated. Coach Jeff Blashill said the Wings “would keep it internally” whether Bertuzzi has been suspended.

Blashill did answer what Bertuzzi is doing while he cannot practice with his teammates. They had a morning skate Saturday at Bell Centre.

“He skated (Friday) and he chose to skate today on his own,” Blashill said. “That’s up to him.”

Commissioner Gary Bettman said before the season began there are only four players who have chosen not to get the vaccine. 

Bertuzzi is a top-line player, power play guy, and has a team-leading four goals after four games.

“Certainly Tyler is a big part of our team, he’s a big part of who we are,” Blashill said. “He’s a real good player. The extent to which we miss Tyler depends on the guys who fill the responsibilities play. We’ll be excited to get Tyler back.”

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George Malik

My name is George Malik, and I'm the Malik Report's editor/blogger/poster. I have been blogging about the Red Wings since 2006, when MLive hired me to work their SlapShots blog, and I joined Kukla's Korner in 2011 as The Malik Report. I'm starting The Malik Report as a stand-alone site, hoping that having my readers fund the website is indeed the way to go to build a better community and create better content.