Todd Bertuzzi gave a teary apology two days after the incident took place.
“Here’s the smell of the blood still; all the perfumes of Arabia will not sweeten this little hand.” – Shakespeare’s Lady Macbeth
There are those in the hockey world who’d love to wash their hands of the Todd Bertuzzi-Steve Moore incident and aftermath, but try as they might the stains and stench persist.
Still to play out is the Moore $38-million lawsuit against the perpetrator and a potential follow-up on Marc Crawford’s involvement, if any, in the affair.
The apologists say the issue should die. Bertuzzi has served his time for the crime. Hockey’s culture is embedded with revenge and we should just accept it and move on. Bertuzzi-type acts are reprehensible, but inevitable.
We recognize there will be unavoidable injuries in hockey because it is a physical, sometimes brutal game and we wouldn’t want aggressiveness legislated out of it. But there absolutely needs to be a shift in the culture and in the mindsets of the people perpetuating “the code.”
If that means the game needs to go on trial, so be it.
A philosophical alteration starts and ends with individuals making their own choices. A coach who has been schooled on the “pay the price” mantra needs to examine what doctrine he’s subscribing to, endorsing and teaching. He has the choice to break the chain.
A player who hears the words that a foe must “pay the price” needs to do some soul-searching on what is being asked of him and whether it falls in line with his own values.
We don’t yet know, definitively, what happened in the Canucks dressing room between the second and third periods on March 8, 2004, but we do know this: Bertuzzi absolutely had the choice not to hunt Moore. A courageous man would have remained true to what he believed in, not caved to peer pressure.
In noodling the latest developments, I asked myself whether the initial hit that catalyzed this saga – the Moore hit on Markus Naslund – would have warranted a suspension under today’s tougher “head shot” standards. I found this video and concluded, as I did more than three years ago, this was one of those plays where an unfortunate injury occurred on a clean play.
Moore delivered an open-ice shoulder check to Naslund who is leaning in, and down, while skating through the neutral zone. Naslund’s lunge for the puck left Moore no time to react to the fact his target had left himself vulnerable.
But what was also reinforced during the playing of the video is that hockey needs reform on violence. I sent the link to my colleagues; one said he was embarrassed for the game; another said it made him sad to be a fan.
The light at the end of the tunnel is Bertuzzi’s words that conclude the piece. In reference to Marty McSorley’s clobbering of Donald Brashear, which took place four years before the Moore retribution, the Canuck is unequivocal in his assessment.
“It’s disgusting what happened…it’s unfortunate…and the league has got to do something about it.”
Words to live by.
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