Former enforcer weighs in on Todd Bertuzzi punching out Steve Moore

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      Deservedly or not, it was the punch that was heard around the world, especially in America, where the only time hockey makes prime-time is when an act of frontier-justice ultra-violence is caught on camera.

      The punch in question was then-Vancouver Canuck Todd Bertuzzi on then-Colorado Avalanche Steve Moore. And, with Moore's lawsuit against Bertuzzi finally set to get underway in court, it's interesting to note what a former Avalanche enforcer, Scott Parker, has to say about the incident.

      For those with a faulty memory, the sequence of events was put in motion on February 16, 2004. In a game between the Avalanche and the Canucks Moore elbowed then-Canuck captain Markus Naslund in the head, concussing him. Because the NHL has traditionally had no clue as to what causes a flagrant violation of the rules, and what doesn’t, no penalty was called on the play. Naslund would miss three games. As Don Cherry would later argue, he was never the same player again. 

      Brian Burke, then the general manager of the Canucks, described the play as “a marginal player going after a superstar with a headhunting hit”.

      On March 3, 2004, the Canucks and the Avalanche met again, this following then-Canuck Brad May putting a "bounty" on Moore’s head, and Bertuzzi calling him a “piece of shit”. At the end of an 8-2 game Bertuzzi followed Moore up the ice, attempting to engage him in a fight. When Moore refused to drop the gloves, Bertuzzi grabbed his jersey and punched him in the head with a gloved hand. Players from both teams dogpiled on Moore as he hit the ice.

      Moore suffered what was reported as three fractured vertebrae in his neck, a grade-three concussion, vertebral ligament damage, stretching of the brachial plexus nerves, and facial lacerations. He has not played hockey since, and subsequently launched a lawsuit against Bertuzzi seeking $38 million in damages.

      What does all this have to do with what’s happening in 2013? The case finally looks like it is going to get under way in Ontario Superior Court, with jury selection scheduled to start on January 28.

      That brings us back to the punch. If you know anything about hockey, there’s a code, and it goes something like "an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth". Those who know nothing about hockey will never understand that. Or that Bertuzzi wasn’t looking to end Moore’s career when he went looking for revenge.

      With the trial about to get underway, it’s interesting to look at the incident from the perspective of Parker, a retired NHL enforcer who spent parts of six seasons with the Avalanche. Check out the second part of this excellent interview from last year where the former heavyweight talks about the Bertuzzi-Moore incident, as well as the idea of being accountable for your actions on the ice, and having to earn a paycheque by fighting. Among other things, he argues: “[Steve Moore] always thought he was better than everybody else. He went to Harvard, you know what, blow me. College grad.”

      He goes on to say: “I watched that tape about a hundred times, and just the way Todd hit him, and he actually grabbed him to soften his blow when he went down.” And “it wasn’t vicious, it was just, it was the heat of the moment. It was one of those things where you, you want to do something, but you don’t know if it’s gonna be big, if it’s gonna be small, or how it’s gonna pan out. But you wanna do something”

      Noted hockey expert Oprah Winfrey, who couldn’t wait to wade in on "the punch” in the hours that followed it, would no doubt be appalled.


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      Cozy Pines

      Jan 7, 2013 at 4:29pm

      Thank you, Mr Walker I was villified by the Vancouver media for saying the same thing. Labeled as too much of a fan to be objective about the incident. Which as I saw at worst as a "suckerpunch" which you see about 12 times a week around the league, and at best as the way you describe. Why is it always the enforcers that are the nicest and most reasonable?


      Jan 7, 2013 at 5:27pm

      All players, that piled on were contributing to Moore's injury. He must prove which player caused it.
      Another scenario, Bertuzzi should sue all the other players that piled on those two helpless players.

      Pat Crowe

      Jan 7, 2013 at 9:45pm

      Moore should have turned to face the music.
      Chickenshit, cheap shot, coward puke.


      Jan 7, 2013 at 11:12pm

      Walker sounds like the complete meathead he always came across as. Bertuzzi sucker-punched a defenseless guy from behind. There's no excuse for that, on or off the ice – and if you really think there is, ask yourself if you'd feel the same way if Bertuzzi had been playing for Colorado and Moore for Vancouver.


      Jan 8, 2013 at 7:56am

      Fighting in hockey is ridiculous, seriously. These guys are supposed to professionals and if they can't separate their emotions from the job they're being paid to do then they should find a new career. For those who think fighting is part of the game, if it really was you wouldn't be penalized for it.
      Can you imagine if you did that to a co-worker, or an employee from a competing business? Of course he should be charged and I hope he is.

      Mike Usinger

      Jan 8, 2013 at 10:33am

      @ACMESalesRep. Yes I would feel the same way. And double that if you substituted Matt Cooke for Todd Bertuzzi. I hate cheap shot artists that don't own up to their actions. Bertuzzi wasn't initiating. He was retaliating for a previous infraction. In hockey there are scores to settle. You take out someone with a cheap shot, you answer for it later. Read the Scott Walker piece above for more illumination on this.
      As for @Marc above, go watch soccer or something. Can you imagine walking up to a coworker or employee in a competing business and crosschecking them with a piece of lumber. That would also get you charged. It doesn't get you charged on the ice however as it is part of the game.

      Gerry McGuire

      Jan 10, 2013 at 12:18pm

      If you look closely at the replays his neck snapped when the Avalanche players piled on.


      Mar 13, 2013 at 11:29am

      Dear Pat Crowe....He did face the music, duked it out in the 1st period...was he supposed to let all the chicken###'s line up, one by one, and go after it all game? pat is mad that, given their chance, they blew it, couldn't take him. Should have been over at that point, Bertuzzi was the biggest chicken####, not even squaring up (because Moore already showed what he could do in a fair fight, so taking him from behind. Bertuzzi is a disgrace, and so is the NHL and all the teams who have hired him since.


      Mar 24, 2013 at 3:24pm

      All you losers crucifying Bert please take your mouth off Steve moore's dick! He was no choir boy,a week prior to this he gave Marty St. Louis of Tampa Bay a vicious cross check from behind that incensed then Lightning now Ranger head coach Torterella. So where there is smoke there is fire! He was bitter about the Av's not going to re-sign him at the end of that season so he was trying to make a name for himself suckering league stars. I can go on about this LOSER,go to you tube and check out my comments there. The Moore's are just seeking a big payout which the longer this goes the less likely the loser will get! he should've collected his insurance pay out and gone away quietly. The media never mentions the fact that players are insured,cannot sue another team,player,or their league. Bert wanted Moore's ass like the rest of the canucks but it went accidentally wrong. Fuck all you Bertuzzi haters,he did what moore would've had coming to him,karma's a bitch and moore got it!


      May 25, 2013 at 7:33pm

      Tough rocks, Moore. You drew first blood. In addition, it was Moore's own team that caused the injuries with their pile on.....DUH! It's hockey, not some little girl's playing hopscotch. Boo-freaking-Hoo!