Every hockey fan that has seen the footage can bring it instantly to mind. Todd Bertuzzi chasing Steve Moore around the ice, and then, frustrated by Moores refusal to stand and fight, sucker punching him in the side of the head and driving him into the ice with the entire weight of both of their bodies. Everyone also knows the aftermath. Three and a half years later, Moore has yet to resume his career. Bertuzzi was suspended for the remainder of that season and the playoffs, but began playing again the season after the lockout.
For the last month or so since the Ducks announced that they had signed Bertuzzi to a 2 year, $8 million contract, I have been trying to figure out how I feel about it. Not the obvious question, which is why are we paying $4 million a year to a guy who played in only 15 games last year, and hasn’t proven that he has recovered from his back surgery, but the more troublesome question of whether Todd Bertuzzi should even be allowed to play?
Bertuzzi served what amounted to a 20 game suspension from the NHL, and wasnt allowed to play in the World Championships or Europe during the lockout because of the incident. Moores career is, for all intents and purposes, probably over.
Bertuzzi backers will defend him by saying that Moores earlier hit on Marcus Naslund and his refusal to fight Bertuzzi caused the incident, and that Moore got what he deserved. That he did not live up to the CODE and he paid the price. Those not in Bertuzzis corner say it was a cowardly blindside attack that should have been punished with a lifetime ban. I have to say I am closer to the latter, than the former.
But I still dont know.
I dont know Todd Bertuzzi. I dont know what kind of person he is. I dont know what he was thinking that night. I dont know if he was acting with the kind of blind hate that would be necessary to have done what he did while being consciously aware of the possible damage.
But I dont think he was. Here is what I do think:
I think Todd Bertuzzi was trying to hurt Steve Moore. I think Todd Bertuzzi was trying to dish out some karma for Moores debatably clean hit on Naslund. I think Todd Bertuzzi was trying to be a good teammate. I think Todd Bertuzzi made an incredibly costly and regrettable mistake. I think Todd Bertuzzi is remorseful. And I think Todd Bertuzzi should be held responsible.
If I was on the jury hearing the civil case that Moore filed against Bertuzzi, and is currently making its way through the Canadian justice system, I would find for Moore and make Bertuzzi pay him every bit of the earnings that Moore lost out on. I would make Bertuzzi serve as Moores butler and put on little puppet shows for the kids in Moores neighborhood. I would make Bertuzzi wash Moores cars and rub his feet.
But I would not prohibit Todd from playing hockey.
Not only would I not want to take away the only chance Bertuzzi has at making the millions of dollars that I think he should have to give to Moore, but I also dont see the benefit of ruining two careers over what I have to believe was a monumental lapse of judgment. If Todd Bertuzzi is human at all, and I have to believe he is, the guilt and shame he has felt since that moment has to be overwhelming, and I for one, think, in addition to the monetary award that should be made, that is punishment enough.
I cant say that I am going to be giving Bertuzzi standing ovations just because he is a Duck now, but I am going to wipe the slate as far as he is concerned, so I wont be booing him either. I am going to let his actions on and off the ice starting now guide my opinion of him, and take it from there.
Any other thoughts would be greatly appreciated.