Injured forward alert and mobile

Updated: March 10, 2004, 11:05 PM ET
Associated Press

EDMONTON, Alberta -- Colorado Avalanche players were encouraged after visiting and talking with teammate Steve Moore, who remains hospitalized with a broken neck after being sucker punched by Vancouver's Todd Bertuzzi.

"He was very upbeat and seemed to be very positive," winger Paul Kariya said before Colorado's game against Edmonton on Wednesday night. He said he was relieved to see Moore alert and mobile.

Moore was struck from behind by Bertuzzi during Monday's game and crumpled to the ice with the 245-pound forward on top of him. He has spinal fractures, spinal ligament injuries, a closed head injury with a concussion, and facial cuts and abrasions, the Avalanche said.

Moore's spinal cord and spinal nerves were not injured, Vancouver Coastal Health said in a statement released at the request of Moore's doctors.

Moore, who will miss the rest of the season, has no memory of the time just before and after the injury, the team said.

Bertuzzi has been suspended indefinitely, and NHL officials are expected to announce a more detailed punishment Thursday.

He made a tearful statement before the Canucks' game Wednesday night, apologizing to Moore and his family and to others.

"I'm relieved to hear that Steve's going to have a full recovery," Bertuzzi said. "It means a lot to me that that's going to happen."

Moore is expected to be transferred to a Denver hospital soon.

"He's doing well," Avalanche captain Joe Sakic said. "There is nothing to the spinal cord, which is nice."

Members of the Avalanche gathered at Vancouver General Hospital on Tuesday and broke into applause when Moore was wheeled into a room in a bulky harness intended to protect his neck.

He managed a smile for his anxious teammates and, after a trainer explained the injuries, said: "Looks worse than it is, though, right?"

One by one, Sakic and the rest approached Moore and whispered words of support. According to The Denver Post and Rocky Mountain News, he assured them: "I just have to wear this stylish brace for a while."

Moore and his two brothers all play hockey. Older brother Mark has been out of the game for more than a year after sustaining a concussion while playing for the ECHL Wheeling Nailers.

Still, Anna and Jack Moore said nothing could prepare them for what happened to their son in Vancouver.

"I hope most of the hockey world is outraged," Anna Moore said. "When you see someone who loves the game as much as he does, this type of nonsense doesn't have to come with it. That's just a black mark for hockey, when human beings behave like that in front of the public eye and where little boys worship them."

The Moores were watching the game at their home in suburban Thornhill, Ontario. They watched as their son lay motionless in a pool of blood for several minutes before he was taken off the ice on a stretcher.

In the hospital, Avalanche coach Tony Granato told Moore he knew his family was worried about him. He said the team was his family, too.

"On behalf of the boys, we just wanted to stop and let you know how much we think of you," he said. "We'll win some games while you're laid up for a while."

The Avalanche said they will try to focus on hockey after overhauling their lineup by adding Matthew Barnaby from the New York Rangers, Chris Gratton and Ossi Vaananen from Phoenix, and Edmonton goaltender Tommy Salo.

"It's been a tough couple of days, but you move on," defenseman Adam Foote said Wednesday. "There has been a couple of trades -- and we got a little grittier up front -- but we've got move on and play hockey."

Granato agreed.

"We have to stay focused," he said. "There is no better healing power than to see your team go out and battle like crazy to get a win."


Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press

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