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Steve Moore says he's angry over change in his life following Bertuzzi hit

The Canadian Press
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The Hockey News
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Steve Moore says he's angry over change in his life following Bertuzzi hit

The Canadian Press
By:

The former Colorado Avalanche forward gets mad every day he goes to the gym by himself, hoping he won't suffer headaches or nausea after due to post-concussion syndrome. He gets frustrated thinking about the life he lost as an NHL hockey player that night three years ago when Todd Bertuzzi, then a member of the Vancouver Canucks, jumped him from behind and drove his head into the ice.

"It's hard not to be upset about it," the soft-spoken Moore said in a telephone interview Thursday from Toronto. "It's such a difficult thing to deal with, to have your life so dramatically changed, especially in such a way.

"From going to living out your dream . . . to not doing anything close to that and just trying to get healthy again. That's a pretty difficult shift in reality."

Moore's reality changed March 8, 2004, when Bertuzzi grabbed him from behind, punched him in the head and drove his head into the ice.

Moore, 28, suffered three fractured vertebrae in his neck, a concussion and other injuries. He hasn't played hockey since. He may never play again.

There are days when Moore feels like a forgotten man. Hockey people like to say Bertuzzi has been punished for his actions. The incident is in the past. It's time to move on.

The problem is, Moore can't move on.

"I'd like to move on too," he said. "I'd like to get healthy and get back to life as usual.

"Every day that is my goal to put it behind me and get back. I know sometimes people say 'we don't want to talk about it, it's uncomfortable.' It's not like I wanted to be put in this situation. I, more than anybody else, would like to get over this and get my life back to the way it was."

Anyone who has watched sports television over the last three years has seen the replay of Bertuzzi's attack on Moore. It still manages to provoke some sort of reaction from people.

Moore is no different.

"I have a mixture of the revolting and sickening feel in my stomach that most other people experience," he said. "On top of that, I realize that is me.

"I also have the feeling of extreme thankfulness that the injures were no worse than they were."

Bertuzzi served a 17-month suspension for his hit on Moore. That cost him roughly US$502,000 in salary. He was charged with assault, pleaded guilty and was sentenced to probation and community service.

Last June Bertuzzi was been traded from Vancouver to Florida, where he missed most of the season due to back surgery. Last month he was traded to Detroit.

Bertuzzi was asked about Moore in an interview after the trade.

"I'm so far behind that it's not an issue any more," Bertuzzi said.

Moore is careful when asked about his feelings toward Bertuzzi.

"I don't like to judge people and I don't want to pass judgement," he said. "I think his actions speak for themselves."

Moore has filed a civil suit against Bertuzzi. He is seeking C$15 million in lost wages, $1 million in aggravated damages and another $2 million in punitive damages in a lawsuit filed in Ontario in February.

The suit also names Orca Bay Sports and Entertainment, the parent company of the Vancouver Canucks, along with the NHL team.

Moore's parents are also claiming $1.5 million in damages for "the nervous shock and mental distress" caused by the attack.

It could be next year before the case goes to court. It's scheduled to be heard by a judge and jury in Toronto.

Some people argue Bertuzzi's actions were retaliation for a hit Moore put on Canuck captain Markus Naslund in a Feb. 16, 2004 game. Moore caught Naslund with a hit to the head. No penalty was called on the play.

Even today, callers to sports talk programs and people on the internet defend Bertuzzi. Others call Moore a whiner.

"Most people, when you get really involved in a situation, you tend to lose perspective," Moore said. "For the most part, I've been pretty impressed that people recognize that this is something that is completely beyond anything that could be remotely acceptable in a sport and recognize this act for what it is."

Moore still dreams of playing hockey again.

"It's something I know I have to be 100 per cent committed to or it won't happen," he said.

Looking back, Moore sometimes finds it hard to believe it's been three years since his life was changed forever.

"It doesn't seem like it's been three years at all," he said. "It seems like I was playing yesterday.

"On the other hand, I feel like I've been dealing with a lot of the after effects for a long period of time. It's pretty hard to every day wake up and realize I'm not going to the rink for a practice or get ready for a game. I'm going to therapy on my own."

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Steve Moore says he's angry over change in his life following Bertuzzi hit