Admitting it was a different feeling that anything he’d ever experienced, Tyler Bertuzzi shrugged off taking the Detroit Red Wings to arbitration and focused on what he loves: Playing hockey.
An arbitrator awarded Bertuzzi a one-year contract worth $3.5 million, much closer to the $3.15 million filed by the Wings than the $4.25 million Bertuzzi asked for on the strength of two straight 21-goal seasons.
Bertuzzi said Wednesday, the day after the decision was announced, that he has not spoken with GM Steve Yzerman since the sides went through a virtual meeting Sunday to present their sides.
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“It’s a little different than anything I’ve ever been through, but it went smoothly and we’re happy we got a deal done,” Bertuzzi said. “There was a lot of talking going on. At the end of the day, we’re happy with a one-year deal. I’m looking forward to the season."
He may be looking forward for quite a while. NHL commissioner Gary Bettman has Jan. 1 as the latest target date to start the 2020-21 season, but the novel coronavirus pandemic may delay that even further. For now, he’s working out and skating with a local group that includes Wings teammates Dylan Larkin, Luke Glendening, Anthony Mantha, Robby Fabbri and Valtteri Filppula. They have not been able to at the practice facility inside Little Caesars Arena.
“We’re all working out together and bonding and we’re all looking forward to coming back,” Bertuzzi said. “We’re skating, playing little games, little scrimmages here and there, trying to keep up that game-feeling.
“It’s very weird. We’d already be in the season. It’s a different feeling. You have to monitor when to work out. Once we know there’s a final date to when the season is going to start, then we can kind of base all of that on that. But it’s very different, for sure.”
Bertuzzi downplayed any acrimony that can be fester at arbitration hearings when a player hears his employer downplay his value, saying there was "nothing personal at all."
The Wings drafted Bertuzzi in the second round in 2013, acquiring the 48th overall pick after flipping first-round picks with the San Jose Sharks. (The Wings moved back to 20 and took Anthony Mantha; the guy the Sharks took at 18th, defenseman Mirco Mueller, most recently played for the New Jersey Devils.)
Bertuzzi was named MVP of the AHL playoffs in 2017 after helping the Griffins with the Calder Cup.
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This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Detroit Red Wings' Tyler Bertuzzi: Nothing personal after arbitration