Red Wings Tyler Bertuzzi puts controversial offseason behind him with 4-goal opener

NHL GAME DAY
Oct 14, 2021; Detroit, Michigan, USA; Detroit Red Wings left wing Tyler Bertuzzi (59) celebrates after he scores a goal on Tampa Bay Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy (88) in the second period at Little Caesars Arena. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

The NHL announced before the season that only four players remained unvaccinated. At the top of the list is Detroit’s Tyler Bertuzzi.

Bertuzzi made headlines during training camp as the only unvaccinated Wings player. He nearly carried the team to an exhilarating victory in an outburst that included a second-period hat trick. He added his fourth goal early in the third period.

“It’s his decision,” Yzerman said before the season began. “I am not in a position to force anyone. We can’t force anyone to get vaccinated. I personally am vaccinated, my family is vaccinated. I’ll leave it at that.”

Bertuzzi will miss all games in Canada

Bertuzzi, 26, signed a two-year, $9.5 million contract this offseason after being limited to just nine games during an injury-riddled 2020-21 campaign.

That decision will force Bertuzzi to miss all games played in Canada.

“For the foreseeable future entering Canada, you can’t enter Canada unless you’re vaccinated, so that obviously will be an issue when we go to play Canadian teams,” Yzerman explained.

Bertuzzi will forfeit $450,000 for missing all games in Canada. NHL protocols allow teams to suspend unvaccinated players without pay if they are unavailable to participate in games.

During training camp, he was asked if he would reconsider taking the vaccine. The forward’s response was “No.”

Bertuzzi starts season with a bang

Tyler Bertuzzi’s four-goal game for the Red Wings on Thursday went to waste thanks to the Lightning’s late flurry. Still, it was a great sign not only for him but the team to see such a performance.

“A little bit of luck and some good passing from [Fabbri] and couple of other guys,” Bertuzzi said on his start to the season. “It was good to be back out there.”

Detroit will try to make amends in a home game against Vancouver on Saturday. The Canucks lost their opener in a shootout against the Edmonton Oilers on Wednesday, then bounced back for 5-4 shootout win over the host Philadelphia Flyers on Friday.

bertuzzi vaccine
Oct 14, 2021; Detroit, Michigan, USA; Detroit Red Wings left wing Tyler Bertuzzi (59) scores a goal on Tampa Bay Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy (88) in the second period at Little Caesars Arena. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

“You want to find a way to win the hockey game there after you have that kind of lead,” Detroit coach Jeff Blashill said. “All that stuff is disappointing. It was a gut punch there at the end. That part is certainly frustrating. You have to be able to finish that off. We were in position to win the hockey game.”

Bertuzzi was sidelined for much of last season due to a back injury.

“He brings a ton of energy,” Blashill said. “Tyler is a real good player, he does a ton of good things and makes defensive and offensive plays. It was great for him to come back and play at a high level like that. It’s going to give him confidence. It’s too bad we gave away a point when he played that good.”

Bertuzzi recorded seven points (five goals, two assists) in nine games last season. He sustained a back injury in January and underwent surgery three months later. He set career highs in assists (27) and points (48) during the 2019-20 campaign. His 21 goals that season matched a personal best, set in 2018-19.

Bertuzzi has collected 126 points (54 goals, 72 assists) in 208 career games since being selected by Detroit in the second round of the 2013 NHL Draft.

–Field Level Media contributed to this article.