MLive’s Ansar Khan answered reader questions in a mailbag feature this morning:
Q: I keep reading how Bertuzzi is the league’s only unvaccinated player, and it is causing him to miss games. What are you hearing about what pressures he is getting from the team (management or players) about this? If I was (Steve) Yzerman/(Chris) Ilitch, I would be quite upset that he is hurting the team over this. – Ron
A: Publicly, Yzerman, coach Jeff Blashill and captain Dylan Larkin, Bertuzzi’s close friend, support his decision. Blashill and the players genuinely like Bertuzzi, so I don’t know if he is getting pressure behind the scenes to get vaccinated.
Ultimately, Yzerman will decide if Bertuzzi has a future in the organization, and the general manager has shown he is aggressive and not hesitant to make bold moves.
Is Yzerman prepared to go through another season with one of his best players ineligible to play anywhere from eight to 11 games (depending on the schedule), assuming Canada continues to deny entry to the unvaccinated? It is probably easier to accept on a declining team entering a rebuild, not on a club making strides and aiming for the playoffs, as the Red Wings surely will be next season, if not this year.
My guess is Yzerman wants no part of that. Bertuzzi’s contract ($4.75 million cap hit) expires after 2022-23, when he’s due to become an unrestricted free agent. I doubt that Yzerman will want to re-sign him and will look to move him well before that, maybe in the offseason, maybe even at the trade deadline.
Continued, with Khan explaining that Bertuzzi’s trade value is reduced due to his vaccination status;
I’ve always assumed that he’s probably going to get moved because he’s older (27) and is so hot-and-cold more than anything else. Bertuzzi is an integral instigating type of player that can really “stir the drink” on a winning team, but his vaccination status…
That breaks a lot of unwritten rules regarding “taking one for the team,” as Darren McCarty suggested earlier this season.