Bracing for 'Tuzzi war

ROBERT TYCHKOWSKI -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 11:02 AM ET

The last time they played, two lives changed forever and the National Hockey League was left with an ugly, indelible scar.

Tonight, for the first time since his attack on Steve Moore, Todd Bertuzzi and the Colorado Avalanche meet again - face to face at GM Place. They meet again, in what promises to be a hornet's nest, five days later in Denver.

Fans are bracing for war and the league is watching through a microscope, which almost always means that nothing explosive will happen. But it's a stop-traffic game just the same - even if the participants don't want to admit it.

Bertuzzi refused comment when reporters in Vancouver asked him about the reunion and teammate Ed Jovanovski didn't want to discuss it, either.

"Everybody in the hockey world is sick and tired of it,'' Jovanovski told reporters. "We're trying to make this game better and we need to focus on the good things and not the things that happened in the past.''

Avalanche coach Joe Quenneville doesn't think his team will be out for revenge tonight.

"No, we've addressed it and it's been talked about and we're basically past that,'' he said from Rexall Place, the Avs' last stop before touching down in Vancouver.

"Our concentration will be on winning the hockey game - getting even is not going to be part of it.''

Newly acquired Ian Laperriere says the hype and negative energy will be even more intense for the rematch. "I think it's going to be a lot worse when Vancouver comes to Denver.''

BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU ASK FOR: Wayne Gretzky laughed out loud at the irony: Brett Hull, one of the most vocal opponents of clutching and trapping the league has ever known, finally gets his way. And no sooner does the NHL open up to full speed that Hull realizes he isn't fast enough to play anymore.

"I was telling Brett the other night that he's one of the guys (the new rules) hurt the most,'' said Gretzky. "A few years ago he scored 25 goals because the game was a little slower and he was one of the smartest players who ever played. Now it's faster (and he had to retire) I told him your own comments were a detriment to you.''

ROOKIE MISTAKES: Just the NHL's luck to have two of the brightest rookies to come down the pike in a decade playing in two of the worst possible markets.

Alex Ovechkin is an electrifying talent, but Washington couldn't care less. The Caps drew an "announced'' crowd of just 10,394 against the Isles and when the defending Stanley Cup champs came to town, just 10,002 showed up.

In Pittsburgh, the worst rink in the NHL, the Penguins are going to finish 15th in the East.

KIDS IN THE STALL: It's been a hot and cold month for young Edmonton defencemen in the NHL. In Calgary, Dion Phaneuf has shown remarkable ability and had enough brass, in his eighth game in the NHL, to slap down Georges Laraque when the Edmonton winger tried to go wide on him.

It hasn't been as good for Jay Bouwmeester, the first round pick who was barely average in the AHL during the lockout and isn't making an impact in the NHL (one assist and -1 in nine games this season).

POISON PEN: Low moment of the week in journalism: An Ottawa Sun story suggesting Martin Havlat "didn't exactly have a catalogue of choices'' and needed to "use whatever means he has to create himself some room,'' when he kicked Hal Gil in the groin with skates on.

Nice try. Havlat is a dirty player with two prior convictions - one for kicking and another for high-sticking Mark Recchi in the face, an incident that led to an ugly Flyers-Sens brawl last season.

"I only saw (the latest kick) for a brief moment, but considering who it was, it is not surprising,'' said Philadelphia coach Ken Hitchcock.

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STORYLINES OF THE WEEK

TODAY: Philly at Toronto - Lindros hosts his old buddy Bob Clarke.

TODAY: Colorado visits Vancouver for the first time since the Todd Bertuzzi incident.

TOMORROW: Jarome Iginla, a black player who wears a visor, might have something to say to Sean Avery after his recent comments and alleged comments regarding visor wearers and blacks.

OCT. 27: Vancouver heads to Colorado for the second game of the home and home series.

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HE SAID WHAT?

"I'm an emotional guy and I don't like to keep things in. I'm sure I'm going to regret saying something down the road at some point again. It probably has something to do with, well, maybe at birth. I don't know if my mom dropped me. There had to have been some wires crossed at some point."

Sean Avery on why his mouth moves faster than his brain.


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