By Bryan Jeon
On March 8, 2004, the Vancouver Canucks’ Todd Bertuzzi displayed one of the worst illegal hits in NHL history (and among the ranks of sports history) on the Colorado Avalanche’s Steve Moore, sucker-punching him from behind and driving his face to the ground. Three years later, Moore is still rehabilitating from three fractured neck vertebrae, a concussion and facial lacerations. At 28, he aspires to play in the NHL again but has yet to be cleared by doctors because of recurring symptoms suffered on that day exactly three years ago.
Bertuzzi would be allowed to play again in the NHL at the start of the 2005-2006 season. Among the reasons:
- Bertuzzi served a suspension of 20 games, tied for 4th-longest in NHL history (13 regular season games, 7 playoff games)
- Bertuzzi’s repeated attempts to apologize to Moore personally
- Bertuzzi’s forfeited salary ($501,926.39)
- Lost endorsements (approximately $350,000.00)
- Significant uncertainty, anxiety, stress and emotional pain caused to Bertuzzi’s family
- The commissioner’s belief that Bertuzzi was genuinely remorseful and apologetic for his actions
So just a couple of games off and the forfeiture of chump change, and Bertuzzi gets a new beginning in the NHL while Moore is stuck spending time in rehab for vertebral ligament damage among many other problems.
In a world today where people get suspended for half as long as what Bertuzzi received for taking diet pills, the NHL feels sorry for keeping a criminal serving the fourth-longest suspension in NHL history. The only justice that could have been brought to Moore and the rest of the sports world (along with Moore’s pending civil suit of $19.5 million for loss of income and retribution to name a few) to send the right message should have been a permanent ban in the NHL for Bertuzzi. No questions asked. He might be sorry, but sometimes things are just too late for apologies.
Look at Pete Rose. Look at Tookie Williams. These are just two people who were denied a shot at what many believe they should have had. What gives Bertuzzi the right to be above them when he doesn’t even belong in the same category as them?
And to top it off, Bertuzzi just got traded to my Detroit Red Wings this past February 27th. I will have to feel a burning rage for Bertuzzi everytime I see his name in the box score now on my favorite team. And at age 32, it’s possible he can stick around for another 10 years considering the career span of those who play in Detroit (Chelios-45, Hasek-42).
If Moore does make an improbable comeback to the NHL from this heinous crime, you know we will all be holding our breath for the possibility that he meets Bertuzzi on the ice. And don’t expect any hugs and kisses from Moore, as one can only wonder how many times he’s had to view the clip on TV.