Keenan holds winger in high regard

RANDY SPORTAK -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 8:50 AM ET

Twice Mike Keenan has acquired Todd Bertuzzi.

The now Calgary Flames head coach was acting GM of the Vancouver Canucks when he sent Trevor Linden to the New York Islanders for Bertuzzi, Bryan McCabe and a draft choice that ended up being Jarkko Ruutu.

As GM of the Florida Panthers, Keenan made the much-maligned deal that brought Bertuzzi to Florida along with Bryan Allen and Alex Auld for Roberto Luongo, Lukas Krajicek and a sixth-round draft choice.

Keenan is thrilled to be reunited with the big winger for a third time.

"I'm excited for Todd, I'm excited for the Flames and I'm excited for us. He's a big man who has the skill set that's going to help our hockey club," Keenan said yesterday.

Bertuzzi signed a one-year contract worth US$1.95 million yesterday.

Keenan is well aware Bertuzzi is not a fan favourite in these parts but insists not all those opinions of Bertuzzi are valid.

"What I can tell (fans) is he's got good team skills and that's never been an issue with me. He's a contributor," Keenan said. "Yes, there was an incident in Vancouver (the hit on Steve Moore) that has (become) a larger-than-life incident -- and I'm not under-scoring what happened at all -- but there are a lot of incidents that have happened over the course of the league, the history of the league, and he's capable of playing through it and has demonstrated that recently.

"The fact he wanted to come back to Canada, he wanted to come to Calgary, tells you something about his character. He's willing to accept whatever decisions are going to come in the future, but he also embraces the opportunity to demonstrate to Calgary fans that he's an excellent player and a good team man.

"I know Todd well, and the fans are going to be happy with what he brings this hockey club.

"He's a hard man to move (in front of the net) and can be a force," Keenan said. "He's still a young man and I think can ... help this group."

Bertuzzi said Keenan helped "kick start" his career in Vancouver and is looking forward to playing for him again.

"A lot of my success has come with how he played me and how he used me," Keenan said. "Mike's a guy who knows how to treat different people in different times and different situations.

"He pushes you really hard and all that, but at the same time he knows what kind of person each individual is and how he can handle different situations."\


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