Big Bert is old news now

TURIN -- Todd Bertuzzi should personally thank Wayne Gretzky before he gets on the plane Monday to head to the Olympics.

Bertuzzi's selection to Team Canada was a source of controversy back in December, when The Great One named the troubled Vancouver forward to the Turin team. But that's all way in the past now.

In fact, with media across the world clamouring to get a piece of Gretzky, Bertuzzi should be able to walk out of the Canadian dressing room without anybody noticing.

If Gretzky thinks coming to the Olympics will allow him to escape the mushrooming controversy back home about an alleged gambling ring, he's sadly mistaken. A whole world of media can't wait to ask him a lot of pointed questions.

But this might be exactly what Team Canada needs. Remember, it was Gretzky who put the focus on himself in Salt Lake City in 2002, when he went on his famous rant about everybody wanting to see Canada lose.

It's believed Gretzky will deal with the gambling issue at his opening press conference Tuesday. Then the book, so to speak, will be closed on the matter for the rest of the Games.

THE MEDAL PLAZA: You see some of the strangest things at the Games. Just watched a writer from Russia, sitting beside me, take five of the free notepads Torino 2006 organizers are nice enough to give to the hacks, which include a gift certificate for a free snack at McDonald's. This scribe just took out all the coupons and stuck them in his wallet. Hold on a minute, this columnist needs to take a timeout to get more notepads ... Somebody needs to take Canadian Olympic Committee president Michael Chambers to task for his comment yesterday that nobody in Turin is talking about the Gretzky gambling story that's all the rage back home. Actually, everybody is talking about it and you know it has to be big when it's the line story in a lot of American newspapers on the day the Olympic Games begin ... Here's a nice touch: Cyclist Curt Hartnett and some Canadian officials just dropped by to give some of the hosers covering the Games a lovely scarf and hat from the Hudson's Bay Company. Was that the free plug they wanted?

ON THE PODIUM: That Russian journalist I was talking about, just came back with a Big Mac ... Once the Olympics are over, B.C. Canada Place -- the big log home built in downtown Turin to promote Vancouver 2010 -- will stay open until May, then will be donated to an area outside the city. That's a nice touch ... I've been checking the NHL rumours site daily and have noticed a drastic reduction in the number of trade rumours involving the Senators since I left town. This is a travesty. Checking Ottawa's recent record, it looks like a team screaming out for a trade to me. Memo to GM John Muckler: Owen Nolan is going to sign somewhere in the next 7-10 days. Get on it ... Swedish coach Bengt Gustafsson said if Philly C Peter Forsberg wants to come to the Olympics and take a few games off to rest his groin tear, he doesn't have a problem with it. "We have decided to give (Forsberg) as much time as possible," said Gustafsson. "We will consider taking him to Italy and allowing him to sit out a game or two. We have 13 forwards. One can rest. Why should it not be Forsberg? But we can't wait until the quarter-finals to enter him."

bruce.garrioch@ott.sunpub.com