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06-24-2004, 03:51 PM
Bertuzzi charged for attack on Moore

Canadian Press


VANCOUVER (CP) - Once again, the NHL is going on trial.

Vancouver Canucks star Todd Bertuzzi was charged Thursday with assault causing bodily harm for a March 8 on-ice attack that left Colorado Avalanche forward Steve Moore with a broken neck and his NHL career in doubt.

Bertuzzi, 29, has been ordered to appear in provincial court July 9.

If found guilty, Bertuzzi could face a penalty ranging from jail time to an absolute discharge with no criminal record.

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History of criminal charges on ice

``It's unfortunate,'' Pat Morris, Bertuzzi's agent, said about the decision to charge Bertuzzi. ``You hoped the process would have led to an opposite decision. I fully support my client and my friend.''

Morris refused to detail Bertuzzi's reaction to the news.

``His life is private. There is no comment.''

Bertuzzi's sucker-punch during the third period of a Colorado blowout win has been shown repeatedly on television across North America and elsewhere. The incident was a major embarrassment for the league and renewed debate about violence and the culture of hockey.

The incident sent the 25-year-old Moore to hospital with three fractured vertebrae, facial cuts, significant post-concussion symptoms and ``significant amnesia.'' Nerves in the neck area were also stretched by the blow.

Moore last met with the media on March 29, when it was not known when, or if, the native of Windsor, Ont., would play hockey again. There have been no public updates since on his condition.

Thursday's announcement comes on the eve of the NHL's entry draft this weekend in Raleigh, N.C., a showcase event for the league. Now the spotlight of future stars will be shared with talk of lawyers and on-ice violence.

Geoffrey Gaul, director of legal services for the B.C. Criminal Justice Branch of the Ministry of the Attorney General, defended the length of time it took to decide whether charges should be laid.

``It didn't take too long to make the decision,'' said Gaul. ``It took as long as the Crown required to do a complete assessment of the available evidence. The Crown will not make a decision on charges unless we're satisfied that we have sufficient evidence to allow us to make a charging decision.''

Bertuzzi could face a maximum penalty of 10 years in jail if the trial is held in B.C. Supreme Court. Legal experts say that penalty would be reserved only for the worst cases with repeat offenders and is highly unlikely in this incident.

If the case is heard in B.C. provincial court, the maximum penalty is 18 months. The venue is up to the Crown, which has yet to decide, according to Gaul.

Following the incident, the NHL suspended Bertuzzi for the final 13 games of the regular season and Vancouver's seven playoff games. He must have a hearing with the league before he can be reinstated.

The ban cost Bertuzzi $501,926.39 US of his $6.8-million salary. The Canucks were also fined $250,000.

Bertuzzi, who was also left off Team Canada's roster for this fall's World Cup, has hired Len Doust, one of B.C.'s most high-profile lawyers, to represent him.

Hockey has gone to the dock before in Vancouver.

Marty McSorley, then with the Boston Bruins, was charged with assault after hitting then-Canuck Donald Brashear with a stick to the head in February 2000.

McSorley, now coach of the Springfield Falcons in the American Hockey league, was convicted of assault with a weapon and given an 18-month conditional discharge. He never played in the NHL again.

The protagonists in the two cases are quite different, however. McSorley was a renowned tough guy. And he went after Brashear, another of the league's small band of enforcers.

Bertuzzi is a one of the league's biggest stars, a marquee player who can score goals and bang bodies. Moore is a rookie seeing limited playing time, a virtual unknown to most hockey fans at the time.

There was history between the two teams. Moore had injured Canucks captain Markus Naslund in a previous game with a mid-ice hit that was not penalized. Naslund suffered a concussion and was sidelined for three games.

On Thursday, the Vancouver Canucks issued a statement supporting their star winger.

``The matter is now before the courts and we will continue to support Todd and his family through this process,'' the team said. ``Although we appreciate the interest in this development, the Vancouver Canuck organization will have no further comment at this time.''

The NHL promised its full co-operation with authorities. But Bill Daly, the league's executive vice-president and chief legal officer, repeated the league view that it had ``rendered an appropriate decision, one that was stern and swift.''

``We did what we believe was right, for the players involved and the sport as a whole,'' he added in a statement. ``We, therefore, would have preferred that the Crown not take this action.''

The Avalanche also promised to co-operate with authorities.

``At this time, it is our intention to co-operate with the authorities should members of our organization be called upon to do so.

``A member of our organization was directly involved, and our main concern remains for him to fully recover from this unfortunate incident,'' Pierre Lacroix, Colorado president and GM, said in a statement.

Bertuzzi's rugged play combined with his goal-scoring ability had made him one of the Canucks' most popular players. Even after his suspension, signs of ``Free Bertuzzi'' could be seen at Canucks home games. Callers to local sports radio stations suggested the sentence the league handed out was too tough.

Gaul said Bertuzzi's status in the community didn't influence the Crown's decision.

``The Crown has not treated this case any differently when it comes to our charges assessment process,'' he said.

Bertuzzi's indefinite suspension won't be lifted until NHL commissioner Gary Bettman holds a hearing with the Canucks star. During a May 25 interview, Bettman gave no indication when that meeting might occur.

Bertuzzi's only public comment was a tearful apology two nights after the incident occurred.

``Steve, I just want to apologize for what happened out there,'' said the Sudbury, Ont., native. ``I had no intention of hurting you. I feel awful for what transpired.

``I don't play the game that way,'' he added. ``I'm not a mean-spirited person. I'm sorry for what happened.''

Bertuzzi, 6-3 and 235 pounds, had 17 goals, 43 assists and 122 penalty minutes in 69 games this season.

Moore, a six-foot-two 205-pounder with a degree in environmental sciences and public policy from Harvard, had five goals, seven assists and 27 penalty minutes in 57 games.

06-24-2004, 04:32 PM
CK , do ya think what he did was worse than what McSorely did a few years ago ?

Persoanlly I don't see him being found guilty or being banned.. but if the NHL wanted to take a stand and attempt to curb this type of behavior they should bann him..

He should be found guilty, If i was to walk up behind my workmate and slam him to the ground , I 'd be most definatly charged.....

06-24-2004, 04:50 PM
I dont know if it was just his wieght or everyone else who piled on the cause of his neck being broken.. one thing that is for sure is that the piling on did not help his situation... I wonder if he could have only had a sprained neck from 'tuzzi's weight then when everyone else came on , that was too much pressure and it broke..I'm sure tuzzi's defense lawyers will bring up the pile on as a cause...

Touchdown Vaughn
06-24-2004, 11:31 PM
I do not feel Bertuzzi should have been charged. Sports is separate part of society that allows more violence and governs that violence according to its own rules.

There may be instances when charges are appropriate, but this is not one of them. It is not in the same class as McSorley on Brashear because a weapon (stick) was not involved.

We have to realize that violence is part of what makes sports appealing. Remember the Oilers line brawl versus Atlanta when Bashai was fighting from the Thrashers bench? Everyone loved it. But what if someone had suffered a broken neck in that? We live with the fact that every once in awhile someone will cross the line. The NHL has handled it; and it should be done.

And if you're Bertuzzi's lawyer, sure, you will argue that it can't be proved when exactly Moore's vertebra was fractured. I'm sure they'll even argue that Moore certainly would have known he was being called out by Bertuzzi and therefore should have been better prepared to defend himself. I'm not blaming Moore for what happend, but it's something Bert's lawyers could argue.

Touchdown Vaughn
06-24-2004, 11:33 PM

Persoanlly I don't see him being found guilty or being banned.. but if the NHL wanted to take a stand and attempt to curb this type of behavior they should bann him..


The NHL could virtually eliminate fighting if they wanted to. For example, a new rule: Anyone who gets a fighting major receives an automatic 10 game suspension.

06-25-2004, 07:43 AM
There is no way he could have been prepared for that attack.. he was jumped from behind... moore was playing hockey.. his eyes up the ice watching the play and the puck...Bertuzzi was focused on moore not the play.

Touchdown Vaughn
06-25-2004, 11:49 AM
I do not believe Moore should have been expecting the attack. My point is, if you were Bertuzzi's lawyer, and you are doing everything to get your client off, you could argue that given the score in the game and the history between the teams, Moore could have been expecting to have to fight.

Anyway, I do feel that the punishment from the NHL is sufficient in this case. Certainly I feel that it was a disgusting, uncalled for attack. However, being as there was no stick involved, it is not as bad as McSorley on Brashear. Remember also that McSorley did his thing right at the end of the game, which also makes it worse.

We are dealing with a situation that is amplified because of the fact Moore was injured. And by the way, using the term "broken neck" is in itself an exaggeration. Moore had two phalanges in his neck chipped. Those are the pointy things that come out of your vertebra that the nerves run through. Nothing I have heard or read suggest that he was ever in any danger of being paralyzed. Had Moore not been injured, the outcry would not be as severe.

Consider the stick-swinging incident during the AHL playoffs. The one player, I believe for Cleveland, swung at the Russian player's head and missed. The Russian swung back, made contact, and is suspended for one year. The Clev player got six games. So, basically, because he has a bad aim, he gets to play next year. They both did the same thing, so should get the same suspension. I don't think you wait to see the severity of the injury to judge the length of a suspension.

What Bertuzzi did was gross, but it is impossible to totally eliminate ugly incidents like that from hockey or any other sport. And let's remember that hockey is far cleaner than it was 30 years ago.

Also, Crimson Knight, I do not find what Bertuzzi did appealing. My point was that as long we as fans admire rugged players who are even willing to be a little dirty sometimes (Mark Messier to name a perfect example) to get the job done., then we have to realize that every few years some nasty crap is going to go down. You can't have one without the other.

06-25-2004, 12:44 PM
Also, Crimson Knight, I do not find what Bertuzzi did appealing.

Uhhh...please tell me you meant APPALLING

Touchdown Vaughn
06-25-2004, 05:35 PM
Muley- I do not find the violence of Bertuzzi's actions appealing. I was referring to things said in CK's and my previous comments. Perhaps you did not notice that I have the word NOT in that sentence.

06-25-2004, 10:23 PM
Muley- I do not find the violence of Bertuzzi's actions appealing. I was referring to things said in CK's and my previous comments. Perhaps you did not notice that I have the word NOT in that sentence.

Ahhh crap. Engaged fingers before reading the whole sentence... Guess I'm getting lazy!!! :thup: