TROY, Mich. – Red Wings fans remember Todd Bertuzzi as the hard-nosed tough guy who scored 314 goals and 770 points in his 19-year career.
Nowadays he’s known as “Coach Bertuzzi,” at least to a bunch of teenage hockey players.
“After retiring, I became an assistant coach of the Oakland Grizzly team here, the Junior Grizzlies," Bertuzzi said. "Then this year I decided to take over the head coaching job.”
After hanging up his skates, Big Bert caught the coaching bug and is heading up the midget minor team based out of Troy, which is conveniently close to his home in Bloomfield Hills.
So, two years in, what’s Bertuzzi’s coaching style?
“Oh man, I’ve had some good coaches,” he said. “Mike Keenan, Mike Babcock. I try to take a good mixture of everything.”
Number 44 was known to get into a fight or two in the league, but Coach Bertuzzi said he focuses on skill and finesse.
“I’ll build my team around something like that [toughness,] but I’m pretty offensively-minded now.”
We asked him if parents dare to argue with him.
But the referees are a different story.
“They’re always trying to give me an extra penalty here or there,” Bertuzzi said. “They’re not chirping, no. They let a lot go for the other team. Put it that way, to see what I do.”
Bertuzzi’s 14-year-old son, Tag, plays on the team. Dad said this coaching gig is a great way to transition from his playing days, but also a great way to spend some quality time with his son. It's time he felt he lost when he was traveling so much as a player.
“We have the 20-minute car ride there, the 20-minute car ride back,” he said. “I’ve also been following my daughter around. She plays, too. Do I miss playing? Yes. I miss walking out that tunnel and having 18,000 people screaming, but now I’m interested to see how far my son can go.”