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NHL's best power forward: Todd Bertuzzi

12/22/2003

The Hockey News solicited votes from 42 journalists to come up with "The Best of Everything in Hockey." One correspondent from each NHL city and 12 national media members were asked to vote on various disciplines for active players and executives. In addition, they cast ballots on NHL franchise-related off-ice departments. Five points were awarded for first-place votes, three for second and one for third. The accompanying story and voting results is one of more than 40 areas featured. The complete results can be found in "The Best of Everything in Hockey" magazine. Also featured in the publication are all-time bests from each of the 30 organizations and a fan vote on the top 10 favorite players from each franchise.

There are times when Todd Bertuzzi simply appears unstoppable, nights when his 6-foot-3, 245-pound frame and Downy-soft hands are just too much for any defenseman, games when it looks like the only player who can stop Todd Bertuzzi is Todd Bertuzzi.

The good news for Vancouver Canucks' fans is the days of getting in his own way appear to be behind Bertuzzi.

Bertuzzi was the clear choice when The Hockey News' named the league's best power forward.

"Todd really wants to be the best player in the NHL," said Canucks coach Marc Crawford. "That's ultimately the biggest change that I saw in his game was just his desire to be a great player. It just took over and now it captivates him."

The change to which Crawford refers was from perennial underachiever to first-team all-star, a process that took longer than many had hoped, but now appears be well worth the wait.

It wasn't until two years ago that he found the consistency necessary to elevate his game and remove labels as a body by Tonka, brain by Fisher Price player.

Over the past two seasons, the 28-year-old Sudbury, Ont.-born forward has been better than a point-a-game player, finishing third in NHL scoring with 85 points in 2001-02, then fifth with 97 points, including 46 goals, last year.

"One of his biggest strengths is his willingness to try new things," said center Brendan Morrison. "He keeps guys guessing all the time and that's tough to do -- to be creative in that manner -- and he's not afraid to do it."

With a build equally suited for football, that creativity often gets overlooked. It's his size, however, that affords him the space to show off those other assets while still giving opponents headaches as to how to stop the unmovable force.

Many opposing defenseman have pretty much given up trying to move him from the front of the net, instead electing to step in front and prevent the puck from getting through, then hoping to tie up his stick if it does.

"He's just so much bigger and stronger than so many guys in this league," said teammate Trevor Linden. "He can hold you off and control the play. He can skate and get around you and once he's around you, you can't stop him."

Especially now that Bertuzzi no longer stops himself.

The Hockey News Material from The Hockey News.
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