Red Wings: How will Yzerman Handle the Bertuzzi Situation?

(Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
(Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) /

The curveball in Detroit Red Wings news yesterday was general manager Steve Yzerman’s answering of Tyler Bertuzzi not having taken the Covid Vaccine, which affects both Bertuzzi and the Red Wings in many ways.

It certainly alters the situation a bit and makes for a storyline that wasn’t anticipated. It also opens up a number of intriguing options as to how the Red Wings and Bertuzzi could proceed.

Red Wings and Bertuzzi conduct Business as Usual

Bertuzzi signed a two-year extension back in July and from the looks of it, the trade rumors that had swirled around him were put to rest. Though there’s going to be considerable opinion on the issue, no one really knows, outside of what Yzerman said in his press conference yesterday, how anyone on the team feels about the issue. Yzerman made general comments, and had a very matter of fact answer after being asked by the Detroit Free Press’ Helene St. James:

"“It’s his decision,” Yzerman said Wednesday, on the eve of camp. “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.”"

Though Bertuzzi will miss nine games in Canada and lose pay as a result of NHL rules regarding Covid protocols, the team and Bertuzzi will acknowledge the rules and game plan without him. If he’s fine with not taking the pay, that’s another part of the equation solved.

Perhaps both camps will proceed forward without anything affecting the relationship.

But if there are issues brewing, there’s of course another option.

The Red Wings decide to trade Bertuzzi

The trade rumors that existed back during the summer are bound to ramp up again now that there’s a conflict at hand. Whether or not those trade rumors are true, or bear out is another thing.

But there are of course limitations should the Red Wings pursue a deal.

First, Detroit would be limited with trade partners. Canadian teams would be immediately out, and any team willing to make a deal would certainly have a situation if they faced a team from Canada in the playoffs.

Second, Bertuzzi is coming off back surgery and it seems there would be hesitation to give up a lot for something that could potentially flare up.

Third, any team that acquires Bertuzzi would be in the same boat with restrictions as the Red Wings. It stands to reason that these three reasons would significantly hurt any return Detroit would receive.

Yzerman has been in thorny situations before, though, and if the Red Wings do in fact opt to trade Bertuzzi, it wouldn’t be unexpected that he could make the most out of a tough situation. The Martin St. Louis trade in 2014 and Jonathan Drouin trade he made in 2017 as the general manager in Tampa Bay both harken to that.

Both situations favored the team acquiring the player, and in both situations, Yzerman not only netted a nice return, but many believe he won both deals.

No one but Yzerman and Bertuzzi truly knows where things stand, but it’s certainly something Red Wings fans will be keeping a close eye on as the season goes on.

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