NHL suspends Bertuzzi for hit against Moore

Canucks All-Star out for rest of season, playoffs

Hockey

March 12, 2004|By Paul Doyle | Paul Doyle,THE HARTFORD COURANT

HARTFORD, Conn. - With calls for the NHL to curtail rough play, the league reacted yesterday to its latest violent incident.

The league suspended Vancouver Canucks forward Todd Bertuzzi for the rest of the season, including the playoffs, for hitting Colorado Avalanche forward Steve Moore on Monday night.

Moore's neck was broken and he suffered a concussion when Bertuzzi, a two-time All-Star who outweighs Moore by 30 pounds, punched him from behind, slamming him head-first to the ice.

Moore remains hospitalized with face cuts and two cracked vertebrae. Avalanche officials say his spinal cord was not damaged.

Bertuzzi's remaining salary, $501,926 out of his $6.8 million pay this season, will go to the players' emergency fund.

The Vancouver franchise also was fined $250,000 for not controlling Bertuzzi, 29, who targeted Moore, 25, because of an incident Feb. 16.

Then, Moore knocked Canucks captain Markus Naslund unconscious, causing a concussion that benched him for three games, and Vancouver players talked of retribution.

"The message being sent is, this is not part of our game," commissioner Gary Bettman said yesterday. "It has no place in our game, and it won't be tolerated in our game."

Bertuzzi will miss the regular season's remaining 12 games and a minimum of 17, including the playoffs. If the Canucks were to reach the Stanley Cup Finals, Bertuzzi could miss as many as 40 games. The suspension will be reviewed and could extend into next season.

Bertuzzi's punch was replayed on TV across North America, and he and the league were condemned in newspapers, including a headline in yesterday's Toronto Star that read: "Does someone have to die?"

Yesterday, NHL vice president Colin Campbell said, "Todd Bertuzzi has given up his right to play the rest of the season."

Some are suggesting the NHL should ban fighting, but Campbell said the Bertuzzi-Moore incident would not have been avoided under such a ban.

"It wasn't a fight. It was a punch from behind," he said.

After the Feb. 16 game, Bertuzzi and teammate Brad May both said the Canucks would seek revenge.

"There's definitely a bounty on [Moore's] head," May said, with Bertuzzi adding: "That kid's a piece of [garbage]. No way that punk will be in their lineup in March."

The teams played March 3 without incident, with Bettman and other officials watching. But Monday, the Avalanche led 5-0 after the first period, and the game became physical.

The Denver Post reported yesterday that Vancouver general manager Brian Burke ripped the league for fining his team. He also strongly backed Bertuzzi.

"I'm proud to call [Bertuzzi] my friend," the paper quoted Burke as saying. "I want to say to Todd ... we stand behind you 100 percent, and we're proud to call you our teammate."

The Hartford Courant is a Tribune Publishing newspaper. The Associated Press and Bloomberg News contributed to this article.

Longest suspensions

Some of the longest suspensions for violent acts in the NHL:

* 13 games plus playoffs - Todd Bertuzzi, Vancouver Canucks, March 11, 2004, for his sucker-punch of Colorado Avalanche forward Steve Moore on March 8. Bertuzzi's eligibility to return to the NHL will be reviewed before the start of training camp, when he will meet with commissioner Gary Bettman.

* 23 games - Marty McSorley, Boston, Feb. 2000, for knocking out Vancouver's Donald Brashear with a stick-swinging hit. On Nov. 7, 2000, the suspension was extended by NHL commissioner Gary Bettman to Feb. 20, 2001.

* 23 games- Gordie Dwyer, Tampa Bay, Sept. 19, 2000, for abusing officials and coming out of the penalty box to fight in an exhibition game against the Washington Capitals.

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