The Disabled List: The Todd Bertuzzi Knock-Out Club

In which readers are reminded that all genders suffer sports injuries, and that no one is safe from Todd Bertuzzi.
Share |

One way to exclude women from a conversation is to ignore us completely—just don’t look at us! Don’t say anything! It’s most effective because, this way, no one has to know it’s happening; the roles we play just play themselves out.

Will definitely harm you.But in the first installment of “The Disabled List,” the exclusion of women athletes was so glaring that it felt like an invitation. It read like this:

“I know you’ve been a part of this conversation before, the one that starts with a bunch of guys talking last night’s game but somehow devolves into an argument about who in his glory days suffered the worst sports injury.”[1]

When an article has only one footnote, it takes on special emphasis. Informally, in fine print, this was Brian K. Blickenstaff’s conclusion:

[1]“And I really do mean he. Women, in my experience, tend to steer clear of this sort of conversation.”

Dear boys: There are all kinds of women in this world you might not imagine. When it comes to injuries, visit any college training room and you’ll find us doing our rehab exercises, our bodies riddled with problems that can’t be neatly solved, our surgeries still raw. We are everywhere—seeking full range of motion, waiting for our turn on the ultrasound machine, and pulling on those rubber bands. We are immersed in ice baths (allow your imagination to wander and you might even like it). Hey, girls are Olympians.

As a hockey goalie at Harvard I fell to injury, ankle to brain. In the end, I wasn’t built for it and my personal disabled list is disgusting. But my most absurd sports injury wasn’t something I did to my body. It was something Todd Bertuzzi did. Bertuzzi’s brutality is world famous, but when we met, he was a teenager, that’s all. He was a scrapper from Sudbury, Ontario, a place we call the near-north, but which is still pretty far. He had no contracts, no money in his pocket, probably one pair of nice pants, and was living as a billet with a family not his own, in Guelph, Ontario. He was playing in “The O.” Bertuzzi was not yet an NHL power forward or a member of Team Canada, nor had he yet committed the worst hockey atrocity in recorded history. That would be, in 2004, when, as a Vancouver Canuck, he chased Colorado’s Steve Moore around the ice, pawed at him, then ended his career with a single spine-splitting punch to the back of the neck. It’s true that Bertuzzi had been suspended for 15 games of his rookie OHL season with the Guelph Storm for kicking a Kitchener Ranger, but no one cared about that. We hated the Rangers, and we loved him so much we were happily blind to his faults. We cheered for him so hard his faults became ours.

From 1991-1995, Bertuzzi was one of the most dominant players in the O, along with his boy-wonder teammate Jeff O’Neill, whose appeal was not Bertuzzi’s brute force, but constant finesse, to the point of being fancy on occasion. Bertuzzi’s signature move was moveless. He tore through center ice, careened down the wing—his only challenge was to keep up with himself—and took the puck straight to the net: no sweeps, shakes or shimmies. He shed defenders like clingy little brothers. Of course, his other signature move was beating the shit out of anyone who bothered him. He didn’t need to fight valiantly because his punches were so punishing that it was just a matter of hunkering down and throwing them. Fighting was work for him; he was fixing something that couldn’t be fixed by any other method. He fought a lot, sometimes his own teammates in practice.

I was eleven, and though my body was still a child’s, I was already on my way to becoming one of Canada's elite goalie prospects. For extra ice-time, I attended the Fred Prior Goalie School in Guelph, at old Exhibition Arena, a couple blocks from my house. It was a mid-level camp, not punishing. The coaches yelled sporadically, not incessantly. The skating drills were kept to a minimum for the sake of the kids who weren't in great shape: no suicides. The dry-land trainers didn't care if you cheated on the depth of your plyometrics. As far as hockey camps in Ontario go, this was relaxed.

I was the only girl, but I played rep, AAA boys’ league—it was a lifestyle. My body was still perfect then and my job was simple: learn how to use it. For beating everyone at skating drills, and for general leadership swag—for the pop and lock of my perfect kick saves—I was selected to take shots from Bertuzzi in a demonstration, also a celebration. He came one day as a special guest. I must have also been chosen for this spectacle because I was the girl, right? In any case, all prizes are dubious, and this ended up being one of the worst honors I have ever received.

They called me over and I took off my blocker to shake his huge hand. He laughed at me, and I don’t know why, but it might have had something to do with my pony tail, or with the look of complete worship on my innocent face. I went to all the Storm games and loved him tremendously. I followed his play with and without the puck. I watched how he sat restlessly on the bench and in the penalty box. He spat like it was a curse word, and I tried to imitate that. But I couldn’t begin to explain my love to him there and then, so I took my hand back, shoved it into my blocker, and looked down. The way he played made me happy, that was all.

I skated to my crease to shouts and stick slaps of twenty or thirty fellow goalies. Fred Prior, the head coach, dropped some pucks at the top of the slot. To my horror, Bertuzzi picked a puck and slid down the throat of the slot to the hashmarks. I pushed back, feeling that he was too close. This left more net exposed, but bought me a part-second of reaction time. Then he wound up. One would expect him to take a wrist shot or snap shot at an 11-year-old, but his stick rose high over his shoulder in a whipish arc. Boys my age couldn’t take slap shots yet. But Bertuzzi’s stick chopped down an inch or two behind the puck with a loud slap. It was a perfect shot. The puck did not graze or deflect off my helmet, but sunk into the middle of my face-cage. I dropped unconscious, as if shot in the head—which I was—my body limp in a pile of equipment. Since concussions weren’t considered injuries then, I was dragged by the loose fabric of my jersey to the corner, where I woke to the indelicate smell of burnt rubber. When a shot is hard enough, the impact burns the skin of the puck. I think he shot at my head as hard as he could: the two front bars of my steel face-cage were bent far in.

Always a master of efficiency—nothing pretty—Bertuzzi needed one shot to do me. He was a young guy with a lot going on, and he probably didn’t want to be there that day. At the time, I didn’t think about it. I was embarrassed. But now I hope that he was showing off—just doing the artfully unexpected!—or that he wasn’t thinking at all. I hope he wasn’t trying to kill me. It's a thought I generously extend to all the people who gave me concussions in a career that had a few too many of them.

Illustration by Gillian Wilson.


Share |

Comments

This article is an engaging abundance of instructive information that is fascinating and elegantly composed. I recognize your diligent work on this and thank you for this data. You have what it takes to get consideration. werbemittel bedrucken

I truly like you"re composing style, awesome data, thankyou for posting. afro shop düsseldorf

Super site! I am Loving it!! Will return once more, Im taking your food additionally, Thanks. tattoo supply

Buy backlinks I was very pleased to find this site. I definitely enjoying every little bit of it and I have you bookmarked to check out new stuff you post Dofollow Blog Comments

Much obliged to you for another incredible article. Where else would anyone be able to get that sort of data in such an impeccable method for composing? I have a presentation one week from now, and I am on the search for such data. messebau köln

I truly like you"re composing style, awesome data, thankyou for posting. sell gold

Howdy! Decent stuff, do update me as often as possible when you post again something like this! werbeartikel günstig

Simply respecting your work and thinking about how you dealt with this online journal so well. It's remarkable to the point that I can't bear to not experience this significant data at whatever point I surf the web!
discover more here

Wonderful blog post. This is absolute magic from you! I have never seen a more wonderful post than this one. You've really made my day today with this. I hope you keep this up Clash of Clans Hack

The website is looking bit flashy and it catches the visitors eyes. Design is pretty simple and a good user friendly interface.
Fibromyalgia Treatment

Incredible overview, I'm certain you're getting an extraordinary reaction.
town car

niche relevant backlinks Thanks for a wonderful share. Your article has importations your hard work and experience you have got in This field. Brilliant reading .I love it. high trust flow backlinks dofollow

Very useful post. This is my first time i visit here. I found so many interesting stuff in your blog especially its discussion. Really its great article. Keep it up.
Obsession Phrases

Simply respecting your work and thinking about how you dealt with this online journal so well. It's remarkable to the point that I can't bear to not experience this significant data at whatever point I surf the web! buy YouTube views

I was perusing your article and thought about whether you had considered making a digital book on this subject. You're composing would offer it quick. You have a great deal of composing ability. best phones

Functioning is not necessarily easy.. Quality Backlinks Web

Hi. I discovered your online journal utilizing msn. This is a to a great degree elegantly composed article. I will make certain to bookmark it and come back to peruse a greater amount of your helpful data. A debt of gratitude is in order for the post. I'll absolutely rebound.
Language of Desire Review

I like this post,And I guess that they having fun to read this post,they shall take a good site to make a information,thanks for sharing it to me.
What Men Secretly Want Free PDF

Its a great pleasure reading your post.Its full of information I am looking for and I love to post a comment that "The content of your post is awesome" Great work.
Obsession Phrases Free Download

I discovered this is an instructive and fascinating post so i suspect as much it is extremely valuable and proficient. I might want to thank you for the endeavors you have made in composing this article. Instagram Web Viewer

Todos Los Modelos Retro Jordan y Nuevos Modelos Originales de Importacion Consiguelos en Markstore Tienda Online Adquiere un cupon de 100 pesos de descuento en tu primera comprastamped concrete pool deck ma

This is a splendid web journal! I'm exceptionally content with the remarks!.. more helpful hints

Functioning is not necessarily easy. It demands time in addition to proper management to keep the business working. You have to be involved in many the methods, and know what are you doing, so you could take educated decisions... 0800 numbers cost sky

Appreciation for this particular page. I study the document as well as I really like this. I share with my good friends and also the teen is extremely pleased. Continue to keep put up, I bookmark your web site and I get back each day. smoking salvia

I am actual blessed to read this article... link building services company

Awesome blog. I enjoyed reading your articles. This is truly a great read for me. I have bookmarked it and I am looking forward to reading new articles. buy YouTube views

Very interesting blog. A lot of blogs I see these days don't really provide anything that I'm interested in, but I'm most definitely interested in this one. Just thought that I would post and let you known Non Chlorine Bleach

Nice article. The information here was really helpful for me. For I was finally able to complete my paper on this topic due tomorrow. Thanks a lot for providing this information. Keep it up! Lavish Limousines Perth

Awesome blog. I enjoyed reading your articles. This is truly a great read for me. I have bookmarked it and I am looking forward to reading new articles. Keep up the good work pr5 backlinks

I would like to thank for the efforts you have made in writing this post. I am hoping the same best work from you in the future as well. smoking salvia

There is something special about them. It seems to me all of them are really brilliant!. found it

I read a considerable measure of stuff and i found that the method for composing to clearing that precisely need to say was great so i am inspired and i like to come back again in future places to visit in the united states

I read that Post and got it fine and educational. If it's not too much trouble share more like that... escorts lebanon

You know your projects stand out of the herd. There is something special about them. It seems to me all of them are really brilliant!
learn more

I recommend any content. It's always wonderful to work out you will explain in words from middle and additionally picture quality using this valuable content is quite simply recognized. much more information access websites.escort in lebanon

FREE sekciu, kde si môžeš otestovať naše služby úplne zadarmo. Aj tu nájdeš štatistiky úspešnosti týchto free tipov. Máme radosť z každých vydarených stávok, ktoré sa vďaka našim tipom stanú výhernými.investigation fees

I thought it was going to be some boring old post, but it really compensated for my time. I will post a link to this page on my blog. charcoal briquettes

Excellent Blog! I would like to thank for the efforts you have made in writing this post. I am hoping the same best work from you in the future as well. I wanted to thank you for this websites!
click here

You seriously impressed me by this post of yours. And what is more commendable will be the authenticity with the content material.
click here

Good event, I think because to have a necessary books is very important for every profession, especially, for writers who make your life easier everywhere. internet marketing company

I just thought it may be an idea to post in case anyone else was having problems researching but I am a little unsure if I am allowed to put names and addresses on here 0800 call forwarding

Furthermore, there are a few main reasons will likely affect the internationalization involving sneaker sword near Finland. And this includes, the lack of by and large planning and then effective
clicking here

Excellent Blog! I would like to thank for the efforts you have made in writing this post. I am hoping the same best work from you in the future as well. I wanted to thank you for this websites!
crystal wine decanter Amazon

You have done a great job. I will definitely dig it and personally recommend to my friends. I am confident they will be benefited from this site. discover more

This is extremely fascinating substance! I have altogether appreciated perusing your focuses and have arrive at the conclusion that you are right about a large portion of them.
clicking here

It’s really just what exactly Needed to check out anticipation around long run you are going to continue on to get spreading this sort of great posting
clicking here

I truly like your blog entry all that much. You have truly shared a useful and intriguing blog entry with individuals
clicking here

I truly like your blog entry all that much. You have truly shared a useful and intriguing blog entry with individuals.
clicking here

You have done a great job. I will definitely dig it and personally recommend to my friends. I am confident they will be benefited from this site.
small wine glasses

I definitely enjoying every little bit of it. It is a great website and nice share. I want to thank you. Good job! You guys do a great blog, and have some great contents. Keep up the good work private detective