It basically says everything I tried to say in my earlier entry, only much better.
Perhaps after reading this, those earlier commenters who feel that they can legitimately compare the incident to the same thing happening in any other occupation or situation, will grab a firmer grip on reality, and consider WHY the incident happened – not just the aftermath.
I strongly recommend that anyone who’s not a hockey fan or doesn’t understand today’s game very well give this a read. It explains everything that’s wrong in today’s game. Perhaps NHL players should have “STOP” signs on the backs of their jerseys too.
I liked the article so much, in fact, that I’ve posted it in its entirety in the extended entry.
Thoughtful discussion encouraged. Flaming and ignorance can be taken elsewhere.
There’s more to Bertuzzi incident than meets eye
Posted Tuesday, March 16, 2004
By Barry Rozner
What Vancouver’s Todd Bertuzzi did was inexcusable and his punishment fits the crime.
And while we’re at it, let’s make clear that Steve Moore of the Avalanche did not deserve what he got.
That is where the discussion ends for most people.
But if you care about the game of hockey, a game perhaps your kids play, and you’re interested in why Bertuzzi attacked Moore, and how a similar incident might be avoided in the future, then this is important.
We must first go back to Moore’s Feb. 16 cheap shot on Marcus Naslund, who was leading the league in scoring when Moore, a fourth-line player, nailed Naslund with an elbow to the head and a knee to the body.
Moore never looked for the puck and if Naslund hadn’t seen him at the last second, Naslund would still be in the hospital today. Naslund was done for 10 days with a concussion, while the Canucks lost two of three, and perhaps the division title to Colorado. Naslund was hospitalized for a night and a day, and he was sick for a week.
No call from the refs and no response from the NHL, which should have known bad blood would boil between these fierce division rivals.
“It mystifies me why this happens in this league,” said Canucks coach Marc Crawford. “They talk about players not having respect for players. How about the officials? Should they not have respect for the leading scorer in the league? It was a cheap shot by a young kid on a captain, and we get no call.”
Crawford wasn’t asking for special protection. When Scott Stevens nailed Eric Lindros with a clean, legal hit, no one said a word, but Moore’s hit on Naslund was far from legit.
Folks, this is where the NHL failed Steve Moore, three weeks before Todd Bertuzzi’s sickening attack.
If the refs throw him out and the NHL suspends Moore for three or four games, that’s probably the end of the matter.
Not that many years ago, it would have been settled right there, right then. In the mid-’80s, if a player had knocked out Denis Savard or Steve Larmer with a cheap shot, he would have had to fight Al Secord on the spot, Curt Fraser on the next shift and Behn Wilson on the one after that.
And that would have been the end of it. But back then, you didn’t have so many face shields, and you didn’t have guys running away from what they did.
In Vancouver, their best player was taken out, and the NHL didn’t care until the media became interested in talk of retaliation. Suddenly, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman and discipline chief Colin Campbell showed up in Colorado for the rematch 16 days later.
With everyone watching and the game called closely, it ended in a relatively quiet but wild 5-5 tie. Bertuzzi, the so-called goon, had 3 assists. His best friend and linemate, Naslund, had a goal and 2 assists.
But the Canucks still wanted a piece of Moore. Let’s not argue fighting in this discussion. It’s part of the game as the rules are today and this is how scores are settled.
Meanwhile, Bertuzzi continued to get singled out by the refs, as he has been all season. The so-called goon, who had 46 goals last season and was tied for sixth in the league in assists (43) when he was suspended, was about to flip out.
For three or four months last season, the 245-pound Bertuzzi was the best player in hockey, a spectacular combination of size, hands and skill, but this season the league has targeted him.
No one’s sure why, but certainly not because he’s too rough. In fact, the Canucks wish he displayed his brute strength more often.
Add it all up and the final meeting of the season between the two bitter rivals last week smelled of disaster, but this time there were no league officials on hand and two weak referees let the game get out of hand as the Avs took a big early lead.
Perhaps trying to avoid a beating, Moore jumped Matt Cooke off a faceoff and wouldn’t take off his shield. Maybe the refs thought that would be it. Maybe Moore thought that would be it. But the Canucks didn’t see it that way.
It’s a fast, violent, emotional game, and the gigantic Bertuzzi was fuming. He had referee trouble. His team was getting crushed. His best friend took an elbow to the head. There had been no suspension. Moore jumped Cooke. The Canucks felt Moore was running away.
Bertuzzi was out of control. A volcano was about to explode. Bertuzzi chased Moore down from behind and wanted to grab him, spin him around and fight him.
Bertuzzi weighs 270 pounds with his equipment on, and while not a mean-spirited guy, he has no idea how big and strong he is.
He couldn’t get in front of Moore, so he hit him from behind. It was wrong, wrong, wrong. Inexcusable. Moore was out on his feet from the punch to the head, and you know the rest.
It’s the kind of thing the league had to police. They let it get out of hand. They allowed it to happen. They were asleep at the wheel. Again.
Instead of fining the Canucks $250,000, Bettman and Campbell should take it out of their own pockets and send it to Moore.
What Todd Bertuzzi did was horrible and he will have to live the rest of his life with the consequences.
Two weeks ago, Bertuzzi was an all-star with a permanent spot on Team Canada and a limitless future, and Moore was an NHL center. Now, who knows?
The only one – the only one – responsible for what occurred is Todd Bertuzzi.
But he is not the only one who should be held accountable.