Hopefully he will turn it on for the Olympics and that will carry over for the rest of the season. Gretz and Quinn aren't going to baby him with ice time if he doesn't play the way he was brought in to.
Crawford's hesitation to attempt to force Bertuzzi to work harder goes back at least a couple of seasons.
One Edmonton game in which Bertuzzi got a triple-minor for slashing and unsportsman-like mouthing off to the ref (Kerry Fraser was in a zero-tolerance mood for Bert's back talk that night) caused Crow to bench him for most of a period, and the big guy was in a sulk for quite awhile afterwards (his sentiment was "I don't play for the coach. I play for my teammates so I don't care about what the coach thinks").
If even one guy is allowed to dog it and float in the neutral zone most of the game hoping to cherry pick break-out passes, then this really decreases the coach's ability to get the rest of the guys to buy into a hard-working, team approach that worked well for the Canucks a few seasons ago before Bertuzzi became untouchable.
You often hear of players having 'career changing' experiences playing for their country - or even the all-star game - due to being around player of a higher calibre that still work hard and are true professionals. I hope that Bertuzzi has that kind of humbling experience, so he can be in the position of the the Ruutu's and Keslers.
As far as saving himself for the playoffs, I can't see him doing that due to his personality he has shown. He's had the chance to step up in some big games and doesn't a lot in that area. Tonight against Calgary is another one of those 'big' games. If Bertuzzi can't work in this game, how is he going to build up some instant game breaking power in April?
All in all, if Bertuzzi doesn't change after coming back from the Olympic experience - even for a handful of games - he ain't gonna do it the playoffs when he's needed.
As for their run of good games at the end of the previous season, I see that as a team rallying to prove that they are not a bunch of anti-christs.
The reason everyone's eyes are on Bertuzzi is because of the "incident".
Bertuzzi essentially sank the team' s chances in the playoffs when he got suspended for the remainder of the 2004 season. He also cost the team some assets that they had to give up to get Rucinsky and Sanderson to fill the hole his suspension left in the lineup. He also made us all feel guilty to be Canuck fans because the incident was so ugly.
In essence, we all feel like he owes us large for what he did.
He said a few things before this season started about his desire to come back strong this year to make things up to the fans and his teammates. But, up to now, most don't percieve we are getting the effort or results from Bertuzzi that are enough for us to truly believe he is trying to make things right.
The one thing that no one except the players and coaches know, however, is what goes on in the dressing room. All we can do is speculate from a detached distance. We don't know if Bertuzzi is still fighting a bad back. We don't know if the aftermath of the "incident" continues to weigh on him. There may be more to his average play than just his poor effort. Bottom line is we don't know, we can only watch and make our own opinions without all the facts.
All the facts are only known in the dressing room. Therefore, I have to trust Crawford and Nonis are making the right decisions with their handling of Bertuzzi as they have all the facts and we don't.
And to add to that, don't you remember all the talk before the pre-season started at what "great shape" Bertuzzi was in as he'd been working really hard etc.?
Well, he might be in shape but it certainly doesn't show on the ice, particularly his physical play. I understand the reasons for being a bit timid when the season started but come on, we're now 54 games in! Tonight for example, he has let up on a ton of opportunities to hit guys and made his usual lazy giveaways with the puck. It's like he doesn't even want the puck most of the time as he passes it off as soon as he gets it and his teamates aren't close to ready to getting the pass back. He continues to put Nazzy in vulnerable position by passing to him in traffic. With friends like that, who needs enemie, right?
If playing for his country does not inspire him then nothing will. It will be interesting to see if the other countries fans boo him like they do here in the NHL. The booing is getting really old and tired if you ask me. I understand the Av's fans and maybe even the Blues fans (for his massive playoff hit on Jackman) but the Flames? Why do they care anymore.
Bert's an amazing player to watch when he's out to prove that he's not the anti-christ.
That's been rare this season (maybe just a couple of games before the Oly team was picked, and a couple of games during the road trip through NY area).
Tonight though he must have p***** off his teammates with that stupid interference penalty in the last 5 minutes while they were working hard to protect the lead ... I guess that would make him not so much the anti-christ but rather the anti-intelligent player.