The Guelph Storm honoured franchise great Todd Bertuzzi on Saturday afternoon, raising his number 44 to the rafters where it joins former teammate Jeff O’Neill’s number 92 atop the Sleeman Centre.
Storm president Rick Hoyle was joined on the ice by O’Neill, who was Bertuzzi’s Storm teammate for three seasons, in honouring the big power forward.
Bertuzzi, who was the Storm organization’s first ever draft selection after moving to Guelph in 1991, went on to play four OHL seasons (1991-95) where he amassed 116 goals, 164 assists and 280 points over 230 regular season games.
“I’d like to thank the Storm ownership from past to present for bringing the Storm to Guelph and making this one of the best OHL places to play,” Bertuzzi said in his speech prior to puck drop. “The city and its fans are first class and I thank each and every one of you for your commitment and dedication to this team.”
The Sudbury, Ont. native still holds a Guelph Storm single-season record, scoring 54 goals over 62 games in 1994-95, a year he went on to record 119 points and help the Storm reach their first OHL Championship Series where they fell in six games to the Detroit Jr. Red Wings.
Bertuzzi’s name is a common one throughout the Guelph Storm record books, sitting third in career points (280), tied for third in goals (116) and fourth in assists (164).
He extended a special thank you to Storm general manager Mike Kelly, who was with the club back in Bertuzzi’s playing days as well as former head coach Craig Hartsburg who coached the Storm during the 1994-95 campaign.
“Mr. Kelly I want to thank you for believing in me through the four years, even at times when I didn’t believe in myself and you stuck with me. I thank you for the many lessons I learned along the way. I’d also like to thank Mr. (Jim) Rooney, the trainers, and all the coaches I had along the way and to Craig Hartsburg, who taught me how to be a professional, but most importantly taught me how to be a man.”
Bertuzzi’s ensuing NHL career was a lengthy one.
After being selected in the first round (23rd overall) of the 1993 NHL Draft by the New York Islanders, Bertuzzi went on to play 1159 career games from 1995-2014, finishing his career with 314 goals, 456 assists and 770 points while being named a two-time All-Star.
Having retired during the 2014-15 season, Bertuzzi’s memory book is full of great moments. He left current Storm players with a parting message upon concluding his remarks.
“It’s the greatest game in the world,” he said. “Appreciate and enjoy the ride, but most importantly, have fun doing it. It goes by way too fast.”