Bertuzzi hearing delayed till afternoon

Updated: March 10, 2004, 9:55 AM ET
Associated Press

TORONTO -- It will be awhile before Steve Moore gets back on the ice for the Colorado Avalanche. Todd Bertuzzi of the Vancouver Canucks might have to wait just as long.

Clement: Cowardly Act
Todd Bertuzzi
Todd Bertuzzi deserves to be suspended for 20 games for his attack on Steve Moore. It was a cowardly, premeditated act against a smaller player that did plenty of damage. Even worse is that Bertuzzi went after Moore from behind. A suspension lasting 20 games would potentially cost Bertuzzi seven playoff games and send a message to the rest of the league that this type of behavior is not allowable.

But it should be pointed out that, were it not for the NHL's instigator rule, this situation would likely have resolved itself back on Feb. 16 after Moore knocked Canucks captain Markus Naslund out for three games with a concussion. Any player deemed the instigator in a fight earns an extra two-minute minor penalty and an additional 10-minute misconduct. But without the threat of additional penalties the Canucks would have been able to police the situation immediately, send a message and be done with it.

As it is, though, the instigator rule is allowing certain players to skate around using their sticks as weapons without fear of retribution from the other side. I have yet to meet a player or coach who likes the rule. Abolishing it would be a good thing for the game because teams would then have the ability to regulate themselves before the league has to step in.
-- ESPN's Bill Clement

Moore will miss the rest of the season with a broken neck, the result of a sucker punch from Bertuzzi. Moore also sustained a concussion and deep facial cuts, and he will remain hospitalized in Vancouver indefinitely.

Bertuzzi, an All-Star forward for the Canucks, was suspended indefinitely pending a hearing at the NHL office in Toronto on Wednesday. The hearing, which had been scheduled for the morning, was delayed until the afternoon to give both sides more time to prepare, said Gary Meagher, an NHL spokesman.

B.C. Solicitor General Rich Coleman and Vancouver police are investigating, the second time in four years police have looked into an on-ice hit at an NHL game in the city.

"It doesn't matter what the score was, what the time was, what the place was, what the history was, there's no room in our game for that," Colorado coach Tony Granato said.

Bertuzzi slugged Moore in the side of the head late in Monday night's 9-2 Colorado victory. He hit Moore from behind and drove his head into the ice. Moore landed face-first -- with 245-pound Bertuzzi on top of him -- and lay in a pool of blood for several minutes before he was removed from the ice on a stretcher.

"All I'm concerned with is he regain his health," said Pierre Lacroix, Avalanche president and general manager. "All legal matters and all medical matters, I don't want to think about."

Bertuzzi's punch appeared to be retaliation for an open-ice hit Moore delivered to Canucks captain Markus Naslund last month, knocking him out for three games. Vancouver players had vowed to get even with Moore for that hit, which was not penalized.

The Canucks did not go after Moore in last week's rematch in Denver, a 5-5 tie attended by NHL commissioner Gary Bettman.

Naslund said he didn't believe Bertuzzi planned to hurt Moore.

"He tried to do something he thought was right for his team, to challenge someone," Naslund said. "He wanted to make a point that you don t go out and hit our players."

Bertuzzi's punch and its aftermath sent shock waves through the league, with players condemning his actions and calling for tough penalties.

"As NHL players, we get fired up and sometimes do stupid things on the ice, but nobody wants to see injuries to the extent of Moore's," Detroit Red Wings veteran Brendan Shanahan said.

Even the NHL's so-called goons were appalled.

"It doesn't matter what your name is, this is not right," said the Calgary Flames' Krzysztof Oliwa, a well-traveled fighter. "This is not hockey; this is being cheap."

Wayne Gretzky said it was an example of something that can happen in a sport that often turns violent.

"It's a very emotional game, and you can quickly lose your temper and lose your focus," the Hall of Famer said in Lakeland, Fla., where he was watching the Toronto Blue Jays-Detroit Tigers game.

"What happened was wrong, and I am sure that nobody feels worse about it than Todd."

When Moore's condition improves, he will be transferred to Craig Hospital in Denver and evaluated by neurosurgeons, the Avalanche said.

"Steve knows he has the support of the entire Avalanche family and hockey fans throughout the world, and we hope that he recovers as soon as possible," Avalanche president and general manager Pierre Lacroix said.

Vancouver general manager Brian Burke said that Bertuzzi was "too distraught" to attend Tuesday's news conference but that the Canucks right wing tried to contact Moore at the hospital.

"That to me shows the sincerity more than any statement that we could issue," said Burke, who will fly to Toronto to be with Bertuzzi at his hearing Wednesday.

"He's remorseful, and relieved that Mr. Moore's injuries at this point appear, that a full recovery should be possible," Burke added.

Bertuzzi was an All-Star last season, when he was fifth in the league in scoring. This year, he was an All-Star again and has 60 points, 23rd in the league.

"If most people knew how upset Todd was by the result of what happened they would have a different view on things," said teammate Trevor Linden, also president of the NHL Players' Association.

In February 2000, tough guy Marty McSorley, then with the Boston Bruins, was charged for hitting then-Vancouver Canuck Donald Brashear with his stick.

Brashear was knocked unconscious and missed 20 games with a concussion.

McSorley was convicted of assault with a weapon, but he received an 18-month conditional discharge, meaning no jail time and no criminal record after probation.

However, his one-year suspension from the NHL ended his 17-year career.

Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press