"suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope." Romans 5:3b - 4
Imagine a scene. You stand on the ice, playing in your 1000th NHL game. The game has come down to a shoot-out. Your family has been flown in and watches intently as the game-deciding shot rests on your stick. Take a breath, skate down the ice and into destiny as your shot goes in and the goal light comes on. You know that your family is cheering, and that they cannot wait to come down and see you. Your team is celebrating with you on the ice and your entire life has culminated in this moment of incredible celebration. You have done something that only 262 other people in the history of the NHL have done, and you ended this game as the hero. For Todd Bertuzzi, this dream was a reality on Sunday, February 20 2011 as he led the Detroit Red Wings past the Minnesota Wild in a shoot-out victory. (For more on this story, you can read the Detroit Red Wings article here).
This milestone game was the culmination of an NHL career that goes back to the 1995-96 season, playing for the New York Islanders. Throughout the years, Todd has been championed as a premiere power forward as well as receiving severe criticism for his physical play. There are those who continue to try and define Todd by his most painful career moment.
The greatest disappointments of our lives can either define us, or help to refine us. Todd has chosen to let each adversity lend itself to a complete transformation into a player that Coach Mike Babcock has said makes everyone Todd plays with better. From high scoring power forward to defensive-minded linemate, Todd has redefined himself and his role on the ice. Even injury has served to transform him physically, and Todd may well be in the best shape of his life.
On Thursday, February 24th, the Detroit Red Wings honored Todd's milestone accomplishment with a ceremony before the game. Todd was joined by wife Julie and children Jaden and Tag at ceter ice. It was at this moment, as the Bertuzzi family stood on the ice, that it was clear. Detroit has officially adopted the Bertuzzi's as their own. Cheers and ovations, along with fans holding banners and signs, filled the arena. It was a great moment to celebrate an incredible milestone.
Julie Bertuzzi is still impressed with Todd's work ethic and determination to win. "It's been my honour to watch his career unfold right in front of me" she says. Truly, no great accomplishment is worth anything without the ability to share it with those who love us most. You could sense the pride and joy in the entire family as they smiled and waived in gratitude to the 20,000 fans at Joe Louis Arena.
Character is one of the most precious things we posess. And, like any precious metal, it is refined by fire. The character seen in Todd Bertuzzi after years of trial by fire are those we may all hope to posess. He cares deeply for his family, even recently dedicating a goal to his son Tag for a birthday. (He ended up with two that night). He is a friend and protector for his teammates, often taking the physical play away from his linemates to give them scoring opportunities. Todd is grateful for the ability to play, and for the gifts he has been given. He continues to step in to every situation when called upon to be a leader, a warrior, and a friend. If you can apply these traits to any position in life, you will find success.
Of course, there is one more celebration on Todd Bertuzzi's mind. Todd continues to press toward the moment when he can hoist the most revered trophy in all of professional sports. You can be sure that his family will be close by when that moment comes. Until then, all of us in Detroit wish Todd and family the very best. We are thankful to be a part of your lives, and forever grateful that you made your way to Hockeytown.
For the rest of us, remember your dreams. You never know when you are taking the first step toward your own milestone. Be sure that you surround yourself with those you want to share it with when that time comes. Thanks to all who have stopped by today. Tune in again to celebrate this great gift called life. Until then, God bless and keep reading.