By: Steph Coratti, GuelphStorm.com
Tag Bertuzzi might not need an introduction to the city of Guelph, but he’s out to make one.
Now the third Bertuzzi to become a member of the Guelph Storm organization as the son of former Storm forward and ex-NHLer of 18 seasons, Todd Bertuzzi, and cousin of former Storm fan-favourite and Detroit Red Wings prospect, Tyler Bertuzzi, Tag has more than one name to try to live up to in the Royal City.
However, for Bertuzzi 3.0, that’s nothing he isn’t used to.
“Living up to my last name,” Bertuzzi said of his career’s biggest challenge to date. “When your dad played in the NHL for that long, it’s obviously tough to follow that.”
A challenge that the now 16-year-old OHL rookie recognizes that he never had to handle alone, while getting the opportunity to show his true character within the game, and away from it.
“I grew up going to the rink with [my dad] and he comes to most of my home games, so he’s always giving me advice on how to handle certain situations and how to better myself,” Bertuzzi explained. “I think I’ve handled myself off the ice and on the ice with good character, that even my cousin showed while he was [in Guelph]. It’s obviously tough to follow how well they did on the ice, but I know my time will come for that.”
Looking back to the start, beginning to skate around the age of two, and playing hockey two years later at four years old, Bertuzzi is quick to acknowledge who got him into the game with a flash of humour.
“Oh, that’s a tough one,” he laughed. “Probably my dad.”
Also inspired to be a forward by his dad just the same, the 2017 second overall pick found more than just one role model on the ice.
“Growing up watching Sidney Crosby,” Bertuzzi said. “He was the most fun to watch because he’s probably the best player in the world when I was young, so he was always a role model for me.”
As the second of two Bertuzzis at home, Tag also had the chance to watch older sister, Jaden Bertuzzi, play.
“When she started to play triple-A hockey and get better, she always thought she had a harder shot than me,” Bertuzzi recalled.
Now fast forward to his first season of major junior hockey, and as a member of the Storm, the six-foot, 192-pound forward is adjusting.
“It’s the pace and skill of every guy around you,” Bertuzzi said of his biggest surprise in the transition to the OHL. “Everyone’s a good player in this league and it’s a lot different from minor hockey.”
While adjusting, the accomplishment of getting to this point remains a point of pride for the Vancouver, British Columbia native.
“I think as a kid growing up playing hockey, that’s always one of your goals,” Bertuzzi explained of what he’s most proud of to this point. “You look at the players who have gone through this league, it’s obviously a privilege and honour to be able to play in such a prestigious league.”
With that, Bertuzzi doesn’t hesitate to credit those who got him here.
“It’s my parents,” Bertuzzi said of his parents, Todd and Julie. “They’ve driven me to the rink ever since I was three years old, they tied my skates, they taped my stick, and they’ve been there for me throughout this whole ride, so I wouldn’t be here without them.”
Now, looking ahead to the next few years in Guelph and in his career, Bertuzzi is set to make his own path, with some advice from those past.
“Both of them have told me how much they’ve enjoyed their years here, and how much the city means to them, and obviously it’ll mean more to me the more years I play here,” he explained. “I just need to take it year by year, and everything will get better – it’s just a mindset you have to overcome by wearing he jersey with pride and respect, and being yourself.”