7 weeks later, he’s not close to returning
7 weeks after he left a video game with a hurting back, Tyler Bertuzzi is not near rejoining the Detroit Red Wings.
That was the problem provided Thursday by coach Jeff Blashill, who explained the absence of development Bertuzzi has actually withstood while trying a resurgence. The season was 2 weeks old when bailed out; now it’s more than midway gone, and there’s been no current Bertuzzi sighting on the ice at Little Caesars Arena.
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“He’s gone back-and-forth between and skating and not skating and right now he’s not skating,” Blashill stated. “That certainly doesn’t make him close at all. He’s obviously not practicing.”
Bertuzzi led the Wings with five goals and was tied for the team lead with seven points when left after two periods Jan. 30. The injury dated to the previous outing, Jan. 28 against the Dallas Stars. So far, he has avoided surgery — but that could change.
“We’ve got great medical people and they look at everything and they make the decision on a day-to-day basis on what’s best for the player, and what’s best for him short term and what’s best for him long term,” Blashill said. “They’ll continue to do that.
“I think everything is on the table right now. I’m not trying to be vague, I just don’t know the answer. We are going to have to take it day-by-day. It sucks. But it is what it is and you have to work through it.”
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When the five players who spent two weeks in COVID-19 quarantine in January were ready to return, they did so after partaking in one practice. Given how long Bertuzzi has been out, and his penchant for going to dirty areas, he’s going to need at least a week of practices.
“The first step is to skate over a longer period of time than what he’s done,” Blashill said. “He’s kind of gone in spurts of two or three days and then has had to come off it. If he can go on his own and build up to four or five days, and then into practice – he’s a ways out.”
Few players go through an entire season at 100%, playing through bumps and bruises. But that’s significantly different than trying to play with a back injury.
“You can never come back if you’re going to risk further injury,” Blashill said. “If there is significant risk of further injury by coming back, we will never put a player back in the game. Then it comes down to, can you play like you’re 100%? You don’t feel 100% but nobody in the stands, nobody on TV, nobody knows because of how you play. Those are the things we look at.”
The Wings don’t have anyone else with the same rambunctious style, the same knack for scoring while in front of the net. Bertuzzi scored his third power play goal of the season Jan. 28; after that, the Wings went 0-for-40 on power play opportunities, a stretch that spanned 14 games.
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“Tyler is a big piece for our team, he’s a great person,” Blashill said. “He’s in the prime of his career and it’s really unfortunate. I feel bad for Tyler. I feel bad for our hockey team – we are a better team with him.”
Bertuzzi, 26, gambled in the offseason and filed for arbitration, which was settled with a one-year, $3.5 million deal. There’s no question he’s valuable – he’s consistently one of the group’s hardest employees and a trustworthy manufacturer – and his next agreement figures to be the most significant of his profession, as basic supervisor Steve Yzerman is most likely to wish to bind Bertuzzi deep into unlimited totally free firm.
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This post initially appeared on Detroit Free Press: Detroit Red Wings state Tyler Bertuzzi (back) is still an escapes
Jobber Wiki author Frank Long contributed to this report.