It's been a whole three seasons since the west coast express was derailed and a whole eight weeks since it was scuttled, blow up, picked apart by ravens and sent to the far corners of the hockey world. But, since I am a complete glutton for punishment and I do hold a special place in my corrupted heart for these three, I feel the need to follow them and track their progress through the upcoming season. For Bertuzzi and Morrison that'll be pretty easy. For Naslund, sadly, my proximity to his new team (*spits*) makes it even easier.
And while I will maintain a kind eye for them when I think of the earlier parts of this decade, I reserve the right to rip them a new asshole early and often when they start donning the sweaters of the enemy (conveniently, all three now play for teams that are in that sweet zone of hockey hatred; see my drunkblog from last year to see how I get with the Rangers alone).
Todd Bertuzzi - This poor guy will never win. It's impossible. Call it karma I guess. And the longer this tit for tat with Crawford goes back and forth the worst it makes Vancouver look. Truly, it's the gift that keeps on kicking you squarely in the nuts.
Bert was just introduced to the Calgary media this week and it sounds like he did his best to be diplomatic (what's the over/under on how long that lasts?). You have to appreciate the media still asking about Steve Moore thinking Bert will break character and wax poetically on it. He was reported to be in pretty trim shape and, while stopping short of dubbing himself "hit or miss" like our fair Kyle Wellwood, he came close:
"Obviously, I'm well aware that I wasn't the most popular pickup in Calgary Flames history," Bertuzzi conceded, "but at the same time, I think you've got to give it a little time - and give me a chance. If given the chance, I think I can perform and help this team out."
Of all the three WCE guys, Bert is the only one who could truly come back to haunt his former team. Granted it'll take the definition of resurgence for that to happen, but if Bert finds his stride it'll make it tough to stomach seeing the Flames march into GM Place every few weeks (including game #1). Like you, I'm suspect it'll come to this and Flames fans seem to be of the same mind. For more on that note, check out Kent's great work over at Five Hole Fanatics for his thoughts on Bert being a red coat.
Brendan Morrison - After shunning offers from at least the Blue Jackets and the Wild, B-Mo brought his injured mortal coil down to Anaheim. He was skating in Burnaby earlier this week but admits he isn't 100% yet:
"I'm in as good a shape as I can be with my knee," he said. "I've got a little ways to go — I'm not going to fool anybody. But my doctor did as good a job as possible to get me ready."
If his health holds, I presume he'll be decent enough for the Ducks. He's a clear upgrade to Marchant and has more experience then Carter. If he can find some chemistry with his linemates then his assist totals could skyrocket although it's worth mentioning that the Ducks were one of the few teams who actually scored less and had less shots on goal then Vancouver last year. This year is really about being healthy for him and how the knee - whether good or bad - will affect his play.
Markus Naslund - It's just not easy thinking he'll be in Rag blue this year. And while I'm sure he's happy to start a new chapter (an aside: check out the Sedins article on finishing with Modo in there too) in the twilight of his career, it would appear some others aren't so quick to think plugging Naslund into the Jagr void is really going to improve on a pretty successful Ranger campaign last year. At the very least they don't think it's a prudent financial decision.
Sadly, I tend to agree. My hunch is the Rangers, with a questionable defensive crew, will only do as well as Gomez, Drury and Lundqvist can carry them (mainly the latter). Naslund most certainly isn't carrying this team; I would suspect another 50-60 point season and that should be considered a success for him. In addition, he escaped one limelight for another harsh one; someone go ask Alexei Kovalev, Luc Robitaille or Eric Lindros if the MSG crowd is oblivious to a guy making several million a year not showing up on the ice when they need him. He's the only Ranger I wouldn't mind seeing do well but I certainly don't think it's as easy as slotting him next to Gomez and watching magic happen.
I'll check in on each of these guys as the season rolls along. Like I said I can't help myself. It's a safe bet watching them (I hope) flounder in their new roles on new teams will help offset what could be a painful, first-hand look at watching the Canucks flounder collectively as a team.