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Tearful Bertuzzi apologizes to Moore

TORONTO -- A tearful Todd Bertuzzi apologized Wednesday night to Colorado's Steve Moore for the blindside attack that left Moore with a broken neck, a concussion and deep cuts on his face.

"Steve, I just want to apologize for what happened out there. I had no intention of hurting you. I feel awful for what transpired," Bertuzzi said, reading a statement before his Vancouver Canucks played the Minnesota Wild on Wednesday night.

Bertuzzi made his first public comments since Monday night, when he punched Moore in the side of the head during the third period of Colorado's victory.

The NHL was expected to announce the length of his suspension Thursday.

Bertuzzi, an All-Star forward, spoke from Vancouver after he had an hour-long disciplinary hearing at the NHL office in Toronto. He already has been suspended indefinitely, while Moore is out for the season with a broken neck.

Moore remains hospitalized in Vancouver.

Bertuzzi, who didn't take questions from the assembled media, spoke while standing alongside his wife, Julie, agent Pat Morris and members of the Canucks management staff. He choked up three times during his three-minute address.

Bertuzzi met briefly with teammates before addressing reporters.

"To the game of hockey and the fans of Vancouver, for the kids that watch this game, I am truly story," Bertuzzi said. "I don't play the game that way. I'm not a mean-spirited person, and I'm sorry for what happened."

Colin Campbell, the league's vice president and disciplinarian, will issue his penalty ruling Thursday morning.

"The decision has not been reached. Mr. Campbell is going to take some time before he reaches his decision," said Gary Meagher, an NHL spokesman.

Meagher said representatives of the league, Bertuzzi and the players' association watched videotape of the punch and discussed what happened.

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

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 the 245-pound Bertuzzi on top of him -- and lay in a pool of blood for several minutes before he was removed on a stretcher.

"To Steve's family, I'm sorry you had to go through this and I'm sorry again for what happened out there," Bertuzzi said. "I'm relieved to hear that Steve is going to have a full recovery; it means a lot to me to know that's going to happen."

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 vowed to get even with Moore for that hit, which wasn't penalized.

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

"It's very difficult to see a friend going through what he's
going through," Naslund said of Bertuzzi after the Canucks tied the
Wild 1-1. "The best service we can do for him is to play good
hockey and battle for him.

"That's what we are going to do."

In February 2000, former Boston Bruin Marty McSorley was charged for hitting then-Canuck Donald Brashear with his stick. 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.

The league suspended him for a year, ending his 17-year NHL career.

When Moore's condition improves, he'll 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," said Pierre Lacroix, Avalanche president and general manager.

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.