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 is such an awesome asset, to the point that you are giving and you give it away for nothing. I cherish seeing blog that comprehend the worth. Im happy to have discovered this post as its such a fascinating one! I am dependably watchful for quality posts and articles so i assume im fortunate to have discovered this! I trust you will be including more later on... temporary carpet protection

Truly an extraordinary expansion. I have perused this magnificent post. A debt of gratitude is in order for sharing data about it. I truly like that. Much appreciated so parcel for your meet. https://www.cheap55printing.com/blog/cheap-postcards-design-size/

Incredible post, and awesome site. Much obliged for the data! cheapest 55 printing

I think this is a standout amongst the most critical data for me. Furthermore, i'm happy perusing your article. In any case, ought to comment on some broad things, The site style is impeccable, the articles is truly awesome : D. Great job, here's to you free minecraft premium account

Thanks for sharing nice information with us. i like your post and all you share with us is uptodate and quite informative, i would like to bookmark the page so i can come here again to read you, as you have done a wonderful job. black polythene

Positive webpage, where did u think of the data on this posting?I have perused a couple of the articles on your site now, and I truly like your style. You're the best and please keep up the viable work. morocco holidays

Your music is stunning. You have some extremely capable craftsmen. I wish you the best of accomplishment. blog commenting sites

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

This article was composed by a genuine speculation essayist. I concur a hefty portion of the with the strong focuses made by the essayist. I'll be back. Forest Row Accountants

Hi I am so charmed I found your online journal, I truly found you by misstep, while I was watching on google for something else, Anyways I am here now and could simply get a kick out of the chance to say thank for an enormous post and an overall captivating site. Kindly do keep up the immense work. cheap55printing.com/blog/girl-yard-signs-cheap/

I am all that much satisfied with the substance you have said. I needed to thank you for this extraordinary article. goedkope mobielvriendelijke websites

It would be ideal if you let me know in case you"re searching for an article essayist for your site. You have some truly incredible posts and I feel I would be a decent resource. On the off chance that you ever need to take a portion of the heap off, I"d totally love to compose some material for your website in return for a connection back to mine. It would be ideal if you send me an email if intrigued. Much obliged to you! home heating oil

“Because American Sentinel has taken a stance for innovative, non-traditional learning in the area of nursing education and DNP programs online, many deans came to us with the suggestions of a learner-centered curriculum and technology and simulation in learning,” adds Dr. Garner. “We then suggested additional areas, such as finance and fund development, strategic planning and higher education policy.” resources

I adore this site!! The blaze up the top is great!! site

counting sensible remarks here... full article

I am all that much satisfied with the substance you have said. I needed to thank you for this extraordinary article. local online marketing

Positive webpage, where did u think of the data on this posting?I have perused a couple of the articles on your site now, and I truly like your style. You're the best and please keep up the viable work. casino online

I read that Post and got it fine and useful. It would be ideal if you share more like that... legal guardian

Incredible website! Do you have any tips and clues for yearning scholars? I"m wanting to begin my own particular site soon yet I"m somewhat lost on everything. Would you propose beginning with a free stage like WordPress or go for a paid alternative? There are such a large number of choices out there that I"m totally overpowered .. Any proposals? Much obliged! Tax Accountant

This article gives the light in which we can watch the truth. This is exceptionally decent one and gives indepth data. A debt of gratitude is in order for this decent article. buy Delcam PowerInspect

I am unquestionably making the most of your site. You unquestionably have some extraordinary knowledge and awesome stories. Cheap Panoramic Canvas Print

Great data on your website, thank you for setting aside an ideal opportunity to impart to us. Stunning knowledge you have on this present, it"s pleasant to discover a site that points of interest such a great amount of data about distinctive specialists. live sub count

Great artcile, however it would be better if in future you can share more about this subject. Continue posting. https://cheapprinting.tumblr.com/

I take in some new stuff from it as well, a debt of gratitude is in order for sharing your data. google adwords bogota

Hire a live bands to make your reunion or even birthday party magical an affair. You can choose amongst bands that play songs of a particular decade or a particular singer or group. The various aspects of hiring a genre based or decade based band is discussed in this website. souldesire

Positive webpage, where did u think of the data on this posting?I have perused a couple of the articles on your site now, and I truly like your style. You're the best and please keep up the viable work. cheap postcard printing 1000

Incredible post, you have pointed out some amazing focuses, I also trust this is an extremely magnificent site. purchasetramadol.co

"We provide professional and affordable services to clients in the Jacksonville area. Leave the worry out of the equation by taking advantage of our screen repair service, and letting the experts handle it. We'd love the opportunity to work with you and show why our exceptional service sets us apart from the rest of the field.
We have... professional installers, free estimates, satisfaction guaranteed, Phifer sun and shade control products.
We do... Screen Enclosure Repair, Pool Enclosure Repair, Screen Repair Service, Per Panel Screen Repair, Window Screen Repair, Screen Door Repair, Window Screen Replacement, Sliding Screen Door Repair, Full Re-Screen Service, Rusty Bolt Replacement, and More." Pool Enclosure Repair

Positive webpage, where did u think of the data on this posting?I have perused a couple of the articles on your site now, and I truly like your style. You're the best and please keep up the viable work. curso de marketing digital en bogota

I've perused some well done here. Certainly worth bookmarking for returning to. I shock the amount of exertion you put to make such an incredible instructive site. Markham brakes

Much obliged to you for the upgrade, exceptionally pleasant site.. Cairns Pest Control

Yes i am totally agreed with this article and i just want say that this article is very nice and very informative article.I will make sure to be reading your blog more. You made a good point but I can't help but wonder, what about the other side? !!!!!!THANKS!!!!!! http://creo.aedsoftware.info/mathcad.html

Positive webpage, where did u think of the data on this posting?I have perused a couple of the articles on your site now, and I truly like your style. You're the best and please keep up the compelling work. Air conditioner repair Toronto

Glowpink is a Women only 360° Health Community, wherein women can discuss their beauty, health & wellness problems. Here women can post queries and answer other's related to topics, including but not limited to, beauty, health, parenting, lifestyle, and fashion. Here we also try to connect best of the experts in related areas to the users. how to prevent hair loss

I am all that much satisfied with the substance you have said. I needed to thank you for this extraordinary article. buy soma

I am constantly stunned by the measure of data accessible on this subject. What you exhibited was very much explored and eloquent so as to get your stand on this crosswise over to every one of your perusers. it development outsourcing

NMS’12 will host college students from various business schools from all over Nepal and corporate participants from various industries in a 2 day program on May 18-19 at a 4 or a 5 star hotel in the valley. Ps4

Wow what a Great Information about World Day its exceptionally pleasant educational post. a debt of gratitude is in order for the post. car detailing orlando

A debt of gratitude is in order for the significant data and bits of knowledge you have so given here... Palm Coast, FL

We envision inspiring change agents of tomorrow and in turn be inspired by the possibilities and frontiers ahead. http://www.purchasetramadol.co

MoneyIsWhat.com is a one stop destination for all information and advice related to personal finance, credit cards, loans, mortgages, credit score and more.. MoneyIsWhat.com forum is for the people by the people community focused on issues and problems related to personal finance , where in you could post your queries and get answers from people who had gone through a similar experience already or experts in that category, alternatively you could also post your experiences and help other people with their questions and problems related to personal finance. How much should your mortgage be

Great post yet I was thinking about whether you could compose a litte more on this subject? I'd be extremely grateful on the off chance that you could expound a smidgen further. Welcome it! cheap personalized

A debt of gratitude is in order for the significant data and bits of knowledge you have so given here... article

This is truly an OK and lighting up, containing all information other than shockingly impacts the new change. Bijoux

Howdy! Decent stuff, do update me as often as possible when you post again something like this! http://delcam.aedsoftware.info/artcam.html

A debt of gratitude is in order for the significant data and bits of knowledge you have so given here... Geek Repair NZ

I acknowledge all that you have added as far as anyone is concerned base.Admiring the time and exertion you put into your online journal and point by point data you offer.Thanks. fences builders

A debt of gratitude is in order for sharing us. Webhosting

Much thanks for keep this data. cheapest print