Sports

Steve Moore Settles Todd Bertuzzi-Canucks Suit Over Hit That Ended Avs Player's Career

The vicious cheap shot Vancouver Canuck Todd Bertuzzi put on Colorado Avalanche rookie Steve Moore back in 2004 wasn't just one of the most brutal happenings in an NHL game ever. It was also a crime: Bertuzzi eventually pleaded guilty to assault causing bodily harm and was given a year's probation and eighty hours' worth of community service.

Moore's sentence was considerably more severe: He lost his career and continues to suffer from health repercussions to this day. But after a decade-plus, he's finally reached a settlement with Bertuzzi and the Canucks. Details about the deal, plus a video and photos below.

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Moore currently heads The Steve Moore Foundation, an organization that "focuses on the prevention and treatment of concussion and similar serious head and neck injuries in sport," according to its website.

Also featured at the foundation's address is a page devoted to what's simply described as the "Bertuzzi Incident." Here's an excerpt:

On March 8, 2004, in Vancouver, the second rematch game between Vancouver and Colorado, Steve engaged in his first NHL fight. Steve also scored a goal. In the third period with Colorado ahead 8-2, Canucks player Todd Bertuzzi followed Steve around the ice and sucker-punched him from behind. He then drove an unconscious Steve head-first into the ice, where he lay unconscious in a pool of his own blood. Steve suffered three broken vertebrae (without paralysis) and a concussion, among other injuries.
Below, see an extended video of the Bertuzzi blow and its heartrending aftermath:

The "Bertuzzi Incident" page documents press reaction to this horror show on ice that was swift and unambiguous. Consider this cover from the Canadian magazine Maclean's:

Amid this fulmination, Moore struggled to recover and return to the Avs -- but it wasn't to be. As the "Bertuzzi Incident" notes:
Steve devoted the months and years following the incident to recovering from his injuries and attempting to return to his NHL career. Sadly, that was not to be. After five years seeing world-leading doctors, therapists and rehabilitation specialists, and tremendous progress, Steve was told by his doctors he would not receive medical clearance to return to play.
During the process of seeking answers, Moore "realized that the medical community doesn't know that much about concussions, and that there are limited medically accepted treatments available other than rest," the account continues. "In seeking out answers he also learned that many of the world's best doctors are not collaborating enough or sharing their information or their experiences with one another. Thus The Steve Moore Foundation was born, to facilitate the collaboration that was lacking, and to make real progress in the areas of concussion treatment and prevention." Meanwhile, Moore continued to pursue legal recourse against Bertuzzi and the Canucks, with a court date ultimately set for September 8.

The prospect of a trial, and a rehash of the 2004 goonery, apparently caused attorneys representing Bertuzzi and the Canucks to blink. Hence, the settlement, whose terms weren't disclosed. However, the reported monetary demand at trial was 68 million Canadian dollars.

No amount of money will make Moore whole again. But the settlement, and the attention given to it, will undoubtedly assist him in his life's mission -- one that he turned to after his dream of NHL stardom was stripped away over the course of a few terrifying seconds.

Send your story tips to the author, Michael Roberts.

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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts