Terry Frei needs a history lesson. And a Valium.
Frei is a sports writer for the Denver Post, and he’s got his shorts in a knot over the Red Wings’ signing of free agent Todd Bertuzzi, announced last week.
The column, “Wings whiff on toxic Bertuzzi,” appeared recently.
Frei has apparently not been paying very good attention to the Red Wings—odd for someone who roams the Rocky Mountains, where they’re obsessed with the Winged Wheel and wondering where the rivalry went off to.
“Purely from a hockey standpoint, it makes no sense,” Frei writes—perhaps one-handed as he scratches his head with the other. “Bertuzzi, who had 15 goals last season for the Calgary Flames, is washed up.”
Ahh, I see.
Bertuzzi will be 35 before next season ends, but if Frei thinks that such a player can be washed up, then he’s not even paying attention to his own team.
Joe Sakic just retired, at age 40. He had 36 goals two years ago, when he was closing in on age 38.
And what of Chris Chelios, age 47? How can Frei watch his hockey, when his peepers are embedded in his rectum?
Frei then points out that the only playoff series Bertuzzi’s teams have won in the past five years came with the Red Wings—in 2007.
So how is that an argument for why the Red Wings shouldn’t have signed him? Seems to be one of those hockey/good luck/superstition things to me.
Frei hasn’t been paying attention, because if he had, he’d know two things: 1) the Red Wings have trademarked the rescuing of veteran players; and 2) he doesn’t know more than Red Wings GM Ken Holland and his support staff.
Holland doesn’t “whiff”, as the headline of Frei’s column stated. In his 12 years as GM, Holland has made maybe two or three bad signings and/or trades.
Uwe Krupp in 1998 (which Holland would admit to). Bringing Dominik Hasek back in 2003 (which Kenny would NOT admit to, despite me trying a few years ago). And the Kyle Calder trade at the 2007 deadline.
Does Frei truly think Holland has gotten dumb, or is he just jealous over a rivalry that’s turned from Red Sox-Yankees to (insert NFC North team)-Lions?
Maybe it grinds Frei that the Red Wings are one of the classiest organizations in pro sports. They aren’t the Avalanche, who clumsily and shamelessly publicly courted Patrick Roy (!!) to be their coach, all while their current coach, Tony Granato, twisted in the wind.
It was disgusting. “Toxic,” even.
I can understand Frei’s state, after watching the Red Wings toy with the Avalanche in the 2008 conference semi-finals.
But the true source of Frei’s displeasure might be the fallout from Bertuzzi’s cheap shot leveled against Steve Moore, back in 2004.
“What Bertuzzi did was disgraceful,” Frei writes. “…To me, though, what’s most galling at this point is the cavalier acceptance of Bertuzzi within the sport as just some guy who temporarily snapped, went a bit far, but served his five minutes in the penalty box, and is back on the ice…”
First, the “cavalier acceptance” isn’t coming from Holland or the Red Wings. Are they to blame? The NHL has deemed Bertuzzi fit to play in their league. So the Red Wings should prop themselves up as some beacons of justice and vow never to employ him?
Would the Avalanche do such a thing?
OH, I forgot—the Avs aren’t a player or two away from Stanley Cup contention. They’re a player or two away from the conference cellar.
Second, Bertuzzi’s not getting off scott-free here. He’s going to have to pay—financially. And he already has.
Third, I believe Bertuzzi IS just someone who temporarily took leave of his senses.
Another history lesson for Frei: Eddie Shore.
Shore was a bruising defenseman for the Boston Bruins in the 1930s and ’40s who lost his mind in anger one night against the Toronto Maple Leafs. He was searching for King Clancy, but in Clancy’s absence from the ice, Shore went after Ace Bailey, drilling him to the ice, head first.
Bailey’s injuries were life-threatening. It was touch and go for a while. And he’d never play hockey again.
But Shore did.
It’s a shame, but tempers are lost in the heat of battle. The league is remanded with the power to suspend or ban a player for life. But failing that, does that mean the teams should refuse to hire that player?
That seems to be asking an awful lot.
Frei concludes, “Bottom line: Bertuzzi is a lot of things. His ‘case’ is a black eye for the league. Yet even if it just comes down to trying to win games, he’s more trouble than he’s worth.”
I guess I need to give Frei another news flash.
Bertuzzi was adored in the Red Wings locker room. He got along well with his coach, his GM, his teammates. His relative ineffectiveness in the ’07 playoffs was due to his bad back, which had just been operated on months before.
Kenny Holland doesn’t need any advice or scolding from little Terry Frei.
Frei best write more about teams he’s actually been paying attention to.
I know that means having to cover the Avalanche, which I understand isn’t the greatest gig in the world anymore.
The Avs’ big brother just skated by and splattered them with some more snow, and Frei can’t stand it.