The term “fan” in sports is short for “fanatic”. As in, someone who is “fanatical”.
I thought that important to mention, since this post might be a little fanatical. Anyone not a sports fan (specifically, hockey, Calgary Flames) should quietly excuse themselves at the side door.
So the Flames signed Todd Bertuzzi today.
Even writing the sentence, it seems distant, unreal, as if a part of some nightmare that had assaulted the senses, leaving one awake in their bed in a cold sweat, the real, sane world returning to them in shuddering breaths, as you quietly assure yourself that it’s not real, it didn’t really happen. I had a similar reaction to Mike Keenan’s hiring last year, though there may have been a stomach lurch or two. Now, I was ready, even if disbelief, shock, and disappointment are still apparent.
As a ‘fan’, I was angry initially over the signing, and I still am. No one responsible for this should be employed by an employer with half a brain, let alone an NHL team. The Flames are paying $2 million for someone who is known as a classless goon (I’ll link this again, in case anyone’s forgotten- like Sutter, Keenan, and anyone in the Flames’ locker room who said they were on board with it). This has to be a PR disaster for the Flames, signing an ex-Canuck (first strike) who’s hated throughout the league and was booed quite liberally during recent visits to Calgary as a member of the Red Wings and the Ducks (I would know, because I was among the booers)
Let’s ignore Bertuzzi’s interpersonal skills for a moment, and look just at the talent end of it. For a team needing to get younger and faster, Bertuzzi doesn’t fit the Flames’ needs there either, being straight out of the “old and slow” playbook. He’s an obvious replacement for Owen Nolan as a second line winger- who is overpriced at the $5.5 million over 2 years the Wild gave him. Bertuzzi scored 14 goals in 68 games last year, which projects to near what Nolan had, I believe. On that, it makes a little sense, though expecting him to maintain or improve on that well into the decline phase of his career is unlikely at best. So he’s a third liner, tops.
And Nolan was a class act in the locker room, and a leader, two things which have never been used to describe Todd Bertuzzi. I would take the 2 years and 5.5 mil for him over any amount of money not the league minimum for Bertuzzi- which is the only financial level whereupon this is an acceptable transacation- in a heartbeat.
I managed to almost talk myself into Mike Keenan’s hiring over the course of this year, even if I still think he shouldn’t have been hired (and, having been hired mistakenly, needs to be fired). At least there was the remote possibility that he’d be successful, even if recent history had shown him to be an overbearing tyrant with no concept of interpersonal skills (which the year mostly bore out, even if tactically he was probably fine).
How does GM Darryl Sutter justify this? How do I justify being a ‘fan’ of an organization that obviously condones Bertuzzi’s brand of brutality, which has examples well beyond Steve Moore? I’m not sure if I can.
I’ve been calling for Mike Keenan’s job on the chopping block for a while. With this travesty, you can add Darryl Sutter’s name to the list for me as well- he has used up his good will, and needs to be shown the door in short order. The Calgary Flames should be employing better than the likes of Mike Keenan and Todd Bertuzzi.