Did Todd Bertuzzi, the person, think at all about Steve Moore, the person, before he almost killed him?
That is a great unknown in this depressing state of affairs that has left Moore in the spinal unit of a Vancouver hospital and Bertuzzi facing disciplinary action by the NHL and potential criminal charges in British Columbia.
We don’t have to ask what Bertuzzi, the hockey player, was thinking about Moore, the hockey player, at 8:41 of the third period Monday night. We know that already.
Moore, the former Harvard captain and current Colorado Avalanche forward, knocked out Bertuzzi’s teammate, star Markus Naslund, with a perfectly legal, open-ice hit last month.
The Canucks vowed revenge, though Naslund missed only three games and the NHL chose not to fine Moore. Bertuzzi said there “absolutely” would be retaliation against Moore. “Games will come, and situations will present itself,” were his nauseatingly ominous words in the Rocky Mountain News.
If this was any other profession, such statements might be grounds for a restraining order. But this is the NHL. Gary Bettman doesn’t process PPOs. So, Moore was forced to listen to that and know that someone was going to chase him down.
And off Bertuzzi went Monday night, shadowing Moore, stride-for-stride, before sucker-punching him from behind and shoving his face into the ice so violently as to fracture his neck, give him a concussion and cut his face in several places. A pool of blood formed about him on the ice. Moore was unconscious for a time and had to be taken off on a stretcher.
Objectively speaking, it was one of the most disgusting displays of gutless behavior I’ve seen. Ever.
Contrary to what Bertuzzi’s actions suggested, this was not the life of some EA Sports character that he was taking into his hands. This was not Virtual Steve Moore. This was a real person—a living, breathing, intelligent human being, with family and friends. This was a man who, along with brothers Mark ’00 and Dominic ’03, was part of one of college hockey’s feel-good stories of the 1999-2000 season, when all three skated together on the same Harvard team.
This was Steven F. Moore ’01—a human being, who in this case wasn’t treated like one.
It is so, so hard to stick on an NHL roster, but after two years of playing mostly in the minors, Moore had finally done it and was earning rave reviews.
Now his neck is broken. He’s done for the season. Maybe forever.
What was Bertuzzi, the person, thinking?
CREDIBILITY DOWN THE TUBES
The way this all happened was 99 parts cheap, brutal, and criminal—and one part ironic.