Osgood's biggest fan

RYAN PYETTE -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 10:38 AM ET

This shouldn't surprise anyone -- Todd Bertuzzi loves a good redemption story.

Once the big Anaheim Ducks forward's team got bounced from the NHL playoffs, he found himself rooting for his old pal -- the little goalie that only Hockeytown believed in.

"I was happy Detroit won the (Stanley) Cup and out of everyone, I felt so good for Chris Osgood," Bertuzzi said. "For him to get in there and play like he did for the Red Wings after all he's been through there and in other places, I thought that was great. He's one of the best people I know. I had a lot of fun with that guy and him winning it again was special to see."

Bertuzzi isn't hard to find on a golf course -- he's a mountainous mix of tattoos and golf garb. He teed it up yesterday at Steve Rucchin's Facing Off Fore Charity tournament at The Oaks in support of the Gene Goodreau Patient Assistance Fund at the London Regional Cancer Program.

But cruel fate -- some opponents would say persistent penance for the Steve Moore incident -- has played a cruel twist on Bertuzzi. He played in Detroit last year when Anaheim beat the Wings and went on to celebrate the Cup. Now he plays for Anaheim and just watched his old Detroit mates rock the Cup in the Motor City.

He's only 33, but realizes his time is running out. He'll be back in Duck-land again next season and after that, it's up in the air."I'm really a year-to-year guy right now. I'm a lot closer to retirement than I am away from it. I know it's coming up on me."

Free agency is often a nightmare for fans concerned their best players -- like Toronto with Mats Sundin -- will move away for nothing in return. But for the players, Bertuzzi feels the process should be one of the better times in a career.

"I've talked to (former Vancouver linemate and captain Markus Naslund) enough and I don't know what he's going to do," Bertuzzi said. "If everything's equal, I hope he stays in Vancouver. How I feel about it, if you have a family, make sure you go somewhere where they want to go. That's the most important thing. If you're single and younger, you can go wherever you want."

It's the question Strathroy native Brian Campbell hears wherever he goes -- where you going to play next year? The all-star defenceman, who went from Buffalo to San Jose this year, has his pick and, though it's fun, it's not the easiest choice in the world.

"You hear it's supposed to be great, but it'll all be over soon," he said. "You're crazy if you don't talk to everyone you can and weigh the options. I really turn to my family on these kinds of decisions."

Campbell called Sharks teammate Joe Thornton of St. Thomas one of the most generous and fun teammates he's played with in his career. "But I'm not the only one saying that. A lot of guys feel that way. Joe just loves to go to the rink and play. He's one of the first guys I looked for and called when I was traded."

Londoner Jason Williams is part of a youth movement in Chicago that's finally turned exciting. He's one of the more veteran faces on a team that included super rookies Jonathan Toews and former Knight Pat Kane, the Calder Trophy winner.

"He's smart, he's a great set-up guy and he can finish a little," Williams said of Kane, the first overall pick last year. "He came in with a bit of a swagger, an air of cockiness even, and that's what you need when you're in his position.

"One of the biggest things I think we have in Chicago is (president) John McDonough, who came from the Cubs. He said we're going to be doing things people will say they want to copy because the Blackhawks are doing it. He's a real leader."

Golf tournament chair Rucchin, most recently an Atlanta Thrashers forward, cited Red Wings coach Mike Babcock, his former boss in Anaheim, as a true leader. He knew Babcock's Cup would come sooner than later.

"I knew it was only a matter of time because you can't keep a guy like that down," said Rucchin, who says he hasn't retired and plans to return to the NHL after recovering from an eye injury. "I was happy for Mike winning this year just like I was happy about Anaheim winning last year."


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