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Bertuzzi: 'I wish that day never happened'

VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- Todd Bertuzzi was sorry about
many things on Monday, but being allowed back into the NHL wasn't
one of them.
Bertuzzi broke his silence nearly a year-and-a-half after his
blindside punch to the head of Steve Moore left the Colorado
forward with injuries that could be career-ending.

The Vancouver Canucks forward was reinstated last week by NHL
commissioner Gary Bettman and spoke Monday at an orientation camp
for the Canadian Olympic team.
"I'm a firm believer in second chances, and if we're going to
go through life not giving anyone second chances, what kind of life
are we going to have?" Bertuzzi said. "People make mistakes in
life. Unfortunately I was under the microscope and on TV when my
mistake happened and if I'm going to sit here and keep getting
ridiculed about it, how are we ever going to give someone a second
chance to become better or to change situations?"
Bertuzzi missed the final 13 regular-season games in the 2003-04
season and the Canucks' first-round playoff loss. He wasn't allowed
to play anywhere during last season's NHL lockout because of his
punch that caused Moore to suffer a concussion and broken bones in
his neck.
He hadn't made any public statements since two days after the
March. 4, 2004, attack when he issued a tearful apology. Bertuzzi's
only other comments during his 17-month suspension were made
through his agent Pat Morris, and in a thank-you letter to fans
that appeared on the Canucks' Web site last week.
"Today is a new beginning for me and my family," Bertuzzi said
as he prepared to work out with fellow Olympic hopefuls. "There's
no way I can change what happened in the past, but I'm going to do
what I can to make sure my career and my life aren't defined by
what happened on March 8, but rather by what I did before and, most
importantly, what I do after."
Bertuzzi was joined Monday by Morris, Canucks general manager
Dave Nonis, and Vancouver and Team Canada executive Steve
Tambellini.
He wished Moore a speedy recovery and refuted reports that he
hadn't attempted to apologize to Moore. Morris said Bertuzzi made
more than 10 tries to reach Moore through the Avalanche, Moore's
agent, and his lawyer.
"I was hoping for the opportunity to confront him and speak to
him and his family and it has never come about," Bertuzzi. "You
have to respect people's decisions on things, and some people
forgive a lot easier than others and you just got to deal with it
and move forward.
"I've made my attempts and am still going to try, but I can't
change someone else's mind-set on me."
He also couldn't explain what happened that night on the ice.
With the Avalanche leading 8-2, Bertuzzi grabbed Moore from
behind, punched him on the side of the head and then landed on top
of him. Moore's head was driven into the ice, and Moore had to be
carried off on a stretcher.
The attack was seen as retaliation for Moore's hit that left
Vancouver captain Markus Naslund with a concussion that sidelined
him for three games.
"If I could [explain it] I wouldn't be here," Bertuzzi said.
"Trust me, I've been off for a long time and had a lot of
sleepless nights trying to think of things but you know what? It
happened. I can't go back and change what happened. The only thing
I can do is come back even stronger, a better person off the ice
and a better person on the ice."
In addition to missing the final 20 games of 2003-04, including
playoffs, Bertuzzi lost $501,926.39 in salary and anything he
could've earned overseas during the lockout.
"I'm sure just like Steve Moore and his family, it's been
difficult for both parties. I know I wish that day never
happened," he said. "It's been some tough times, but I've got
good family and good friends and good peers in the league that have
helped me get over the hump and move forward and come through it."
Bertuzzi, due to earn more than $5.2 million from the Canucks
this upcoming season, still faces a civil lawsuit that was filed by
Moore. He was also given a year's probation and sentenced to 80
hours of community service after pleading guilty in a Vancouver
court to criminal assault and receiving a conditional discharge.
As part of the probation, Bertuzzi is not permitted to play
against Moore.