Canada announced its Olympic team for the Turin Games on
Wednesday and Crosby, a Pittsburgh Penguins rookie widely touted as
the future face of the NHL, wasn't on the list.
"We're proud to have him," Team Canada's assistant executive
director Kevin Lowe said of Bertuzzi. "As human beings and in life
and in this country, I think a big part of being Canadian is being
able to forgive."
Bertuzzi, reinstated by the NHL in August after a serving a
17-month suspension, pleaded guilty in a Vancouver court to
criminal assault on Dec. 22, 2004, and was given one year of
probation, which ends this week.
"For them having the faith in me is pretty rewarding," said
Bertuzzi, sporting red-dyed hair. "Knowing they believe in me and
that the so-called baggage that I carry wasn't going to interfere
with this team."
Bertuzzi missed the final 13 regular-season games of the 2003-04
season and Stanley Cup playoffs, and his banishment continued
throughout last season's NHL lockout. He was also barred from the
World Cup of Hockey in September 2004 and two world championships.
He struggled early this season, scoring two goals in his first
15 games. But recently has displayed the dominating form that he
used to score 46 goals and 97 points in 2002-03.
"In 2003-04, no question Todd Bertuzzi was one of the top three
or four forwards in all of Canada, if not the world, and that's the
type of player we've seen in the last couple of weeks," Lowe said.
The team is mostly made up of players who represented Canada
during wins at the 2002 Olympics, '03 and '04 world championships
and last year's World Cup.
Columbus forward Rick Nash made the team despite missing all but
five games this season with a high ankle sprain and a knee injury.
He was Canada's best player at this year's world championship and
had two goals in his first two games back last week.
Crosby, the first pick in this year's draft, ranks second among
rookies and 29th overall with 14 goals and 19 assists. But the
18-year-old center was left out.
"This roster is built around not only skill and speed and
courage, but also the experience," said Steve Tambellini, director
of player personnel.
Crosby was attending a players-only Christmas party Wednesday
night and wasn't immediately available for comment, but his agent,
Pat Brisson, said he would have easily fit onto one of Canada's top
"He's such a competitor, but at the same time he understands
Canada has a big talent pool of great players," Brisson said.
Asked how upset Crosby was, Brisson said, "He wouldn't be
normal if he wasn't disappointed. He's a proud competitor."
New Jersey goaltender Martin Brodeur, one of Canada's returning
gold medalists, said Crosby was just a victim of a rich talent
"He's a young guy," Brodeur said. "When you have the
privilege of playing for the greatest hockey country, there are
only so many players. It's not that he's not worth being there,
it's just because he's in a situation that Team Canada has a new
wave of young players."
Lowe read a statement by Wayne Gretzky, Team Canada's executive
director, thanking fans for their best wishes after the death of
his mother, Phyllis, on Monday.
"This is a great day for Canadian hockey and congratulations to
everyone. I know my mom was looking forward to this day as every
Canadian is," Gretzky said.
Hockey Canada president Bob Nicholson said Gretzky will be in
Turin and remain "the leader heading into the Olympics."
Nicholson confirmed he had discussions with the Canadian Olympic
Committee over concerns about naming Bertuzzi, and forward Dany
Heatley, who pleaded guilty to second-degree vehicular homicide and
was sentenced to three years' probation and community service for
the car crash that killed then-Atlanta teammate Dan Snyder in 2003.
"I think it's a non-issue," Nicholson said. "They will look
at the list in the next few days and I don't expect anything coming