NHLPA will monitor hearing via conference call

Updated: April 26, 2005, 12:13 PM ET
Associated Press

NEW YORK -- Vancouver Canucks forward Todd Bertuzzi, whose blindside punch to Steve Moore's head nearly 14 months ago may have permanently knocked the Colorado Avalanche player out of hockey, is hoping to get back into the game himself.

Bertuzzi will meet with NHL commissioner Gary Bettman on Tuesday with the hope of being reinstated to the league. He was suspended indefinitely following the vicious hit on March 8, 2004, that left Moore with a broken neck and concussion and with no guarantee that he'll be able to play professional hockey again.

Moore's condition will likely be a factor in determining whether Bertuzzi will be allowed to return to the NHL once the league works out its labor dispute with players.

It is not known if Bettman will announce his decision Tuesday.

"When there is a decision, we'll make people aware," NHL chief legal officer Bill Daly said.

With the Avalanche ahead 8-2 in the game at Vancouver, Bertuzzi grabbed Moore from behind, punched him on the side of his head and then landed on top of Moore, driving his head into the ice. The bloodied Colorado player was removed on a stretcher.

The attack was seen as retaliation for a hit Moore put on Vancouver star Markus Naslund that left the Canucks captain with a concussion and sidelined him for three games.

Bertuzzi missed 13 regular-season games and seven others in the 2004 playoffs while losing nearly $502,000 in salary. He was also barred from playing in Europe by the International Ice Hockey Federation.

His return to the NHL is predicated on him being cleared by the commissioner. If not for the lockout that wiped out the entire 2004-05 season, this meeting with Bettman likely would've taken place long ago.

Bertuzzi first asked for his hearing in December around the time he pleaded guilty in a Vancouver court to criminal assault and was given a conditional discharge. He faced up to 18 months in prison.

He was not allowed to play in the World Cup of Hockey last September and is not on Canada's roster for the world championship, which begins this week in Austria.

Moore, also expected at Tuesday's hearing, is an unrestricted free agent after not being re-signed by the Avalanche.

The NHL players' association will monitor the hearing via conference call from a procedural and fairness perspective and will not have a role on behalf of either party.

Moore filed suit against Bertuzzi in Denver District Court in February seeking unspecified damages. Moore's attorney said at the time it was uncertain whether he would fully recover.

Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press