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Ain't That a Punch in the Head?

I've written many times about how much I love "old-time" hockey (the most recent one here). The heated rivalries, the bench clearing brawls, gloves and sticks scattered on the ice; it added an exciting element to an adrenaline filled sport. Yea, it sounds barbarian on some level, but most hockey fights are mutual things; two goons standing up for their teammates, trading punches until the ref steps in. Barbarian, however, is cheap shots. It's sucker punches. It's coming up from behind a player and slugging him full force in the temple and then jumping him when he falls to the ice. Todd Bertuzzi (Vancouver Canucks), as most of you know by now, did just that the other night. Came up behind Mike Moore of Colorado, punched him, jumped him and fractured Moore's neck. Apparently, Bertuzzi's sucker punch was in retaliation for a cheapshot Moore laid on Canucks player Markus Naslund on Feb. 16. The old revenge factor. First, let's address the one thing that most stories about this incident have not addressed: Bertuzzi must be a complete idiot. He's an All-Star. 17 goals and 43 so far this season. His team is three points out of first place in the Northwest division of the NHL. He had to know what was at risk when he decided to take fate into his own hands and make sure that Moore got the not-so-instant karma he deserved. It was a stupid, immature move and Bertuzzi's teammates should be pissed at him - who knows how long he'll be suspended for. He may even face some jail time. Well, let's see what teammate and captian of the Canucks Mark Naslund has to say: Everything that could possibly go wrong, went wrong. We all stand behind our teammate and friend, 100 per cent. Hmm..let's see what went wrong. Well, maybe Moore didn't use his sixth sense to let him know that someone with a clenched fist and a passionate rage was approaching him from behind. Or maybe Bertuzzi's flying fist of rage went completely out of control, took on a mind of its own and swung into Moore's face. Bertuzzi was really just trying to hug him. Naslund also said: "He tried to do something he thought was right for his team, to challenge someone," Naslund said. "He wanted to make a point that you don't go out and hit our players. Right for your team? How is doing something you know will results in penalties and/or a suspension right for your team when you're just heading into the playoff stretch? He could have made the point the way hockey players with balls do; instigate a fight with him. Face to face. Drop your gloves and go. And what does Bertuzzi's boss have to say? bq. Vancouver general manager Brian Burke said Bertuzzi was "too distraught" to attend Tuesday's news conference, but the Canucks right wing tried to contact Moore at the hospital. "That to me shows the sincerity more than any statement that we could issue," Burke said. Yes, it shows the sincerity of the Canucks management and Bertuzzi's agent in trying to save face as fast as possible. Bertuzzi gave fighting a bad name. Everyone is going to be up in arms about the brutality of hockey now. The FCC will want to take the NHL off of television. Parents for a Fuzzy Bunny World will picket NHL games. The Vast Right Wing Conspiracy will start a letter writing campaign to get Wayne Gretzky's sponsors to drop him. The Vast Left Wing Conspiracy will hold forums on how to present a kinder, gentler hockey game. Now comes the million dollar question: As I understand it, the police have already been contacted. Should Bertuzzi be brought up on criminal charges? Does this incident constitute something that should be kept within the confines of the league or should law enforcement play a part in Bertuzzi's punishment? Personally, I think his teammates should kick the shit out of him. But that's just me.


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» Ice scrapades from The last brain cell
Just another "Wilds" fan...Go Wild!!!! Anyway...physicality is part and parcel with hockey. Some teams play a more physical game than others, the Wild, as a young team needed to come to grips with the playing styles of the different teams.... [Read More]

» Ice scrapades from The last brain cell
Just another "Wilds" fan...Go Wild!!!! Anyway...physicality is part and parcel with hockey. Some teams play a more physical game than others, the Wild, as a young team needed to come to grips with the playing styles of the different teams.... [Read More]

» Ice scrapades from The last brain cell
Just another "Wilds" fan...Go Wild!!!! Anyway...physicality is part and parcel with hockey. Some teams play a more physical game than others, the Wild, as a young team needed to come to grips with the playing styles of the different teams.... [Read More]

» Ice scrapades from The last brain cell
Just another "Wilds" fan...Go Wild!!!! Anyway...physicality is part and parcel with hockey. Some teams play a more physical game than others, the Wild, as a young team needed to come to grips with the playing styles of the different teams.... [Read More]


Fights, schmights. God forbid any of them should smoke a cigarette during a game and give kids a bad impression.

I'm ambivalent about criminal charges (leaning towards "charge him" though), but he has to be suspended for at least a full year. I'd prefer it if he never played in the NHL again, but then again I'm a Wild fan who already disliked Bertuzzi for his propensity for cheap shots.

While participating in sports assumes a certain amount of physica contact and even extra-curricular violence, this goes beyond the normal expectations and should be treated as a criminal matter. If a jury finds that getting blindsided and stomped can be reasonably expected in a hockey game, then so be it. But this kind of thing seems more like a basebal player taking a bat into a brawl and smashing heads than the usual relatively harmless scuffles.

Bolie IV

I'm from Colorado so you can only imagine the media frenzy here.

I think both should be proper. Charges should be brought, and the league should investigate not only his actions, but those of the head coach as well. I was a Crawford fan of course because of Colorado's Stanley Cup under him, but he showed some true colors that night. Bertuzzi is suspended at least a year, but of course, who knows whether we will have hockey next year. Should he be banned from playing for a year, or a calender year?

no charges - jesus what next? hard checks resulting in misdemeanor tickets? Betz sh be disqualified from playing for the rest of the year incl playoffs.

next year if there isn't a lock out he should not be allowed to play until after the all star break.

I think that he should be suspended for one year, at least, and that if Moore can no longer play, he should recieve 50% of Bertuzzi's salary once he returns.

The question is when does society treat pro hockey like any other business? If I drive a forklift, I have to wear a helmet and under training, and follow safe working guidelines. In any other profession if there were a projectile flying at 100+mph one would have to wear full protection, no ifs, ands or buts. In hockey, the partial visor isn't even mandatory and we're seeing severe eye injuries (due to sticks albeit); any other business would be investigated by the feds quickly.

In terms of this assault, the same principles apply: where do you draw the line? I certainly can't punch out my co-worker's or competitors when I have a beef with them. Personally, charges should be laid.

Professional hockey has become quite boring, what with all the clutch-and-grab and pseudo-tough guy skirmishes afdter the whistle. I live in the most hockey-obsessed city on the planet (Toronto), and the media here are leaning slightly towards charges laid. Apparently Moore's parents live around the corner from my work. Me, I wait for the playoffs or the Olympics.

Good hockey...3/5/2004, Ottawa vs. Flyers, major fights at the end of the third period, all in the name of good old fashioned hockey.

Bad hockey...3/8/2004, Todd Bertuzzi STALKS Steve Moore on the ice, sucker-punches him from behind, jumps on him as he's falling and continues to beat on him while he's down.

Naslund himself has said that the hit that Moore laid on him a few weeks ago was a clean hit. If you watch the replays, it was clean hit.

Bertuzzi should be tossed out of the NHL for what he did. The Vancouver police are looking into what happened, and frankly, I think he should be charged. If he did something like that out on the streets, he'd been in jail in a heartbeat.

Bertuzzi was supposed to go in front of the NHL this morning, but it's been postponed til tomorrow so Bertuzzi could come up with some better excuses other than "I didn't mean to do it!"

OK, I'm going to shut up now. I'm tired of thinking about the whole thing.

If you think hockey's bad now, just wait until Friday.

Ban him for life.

Bertuzzi hit the guy from behind and broke his neck. It's not a hard hit gone awry, when the target turns his back to draw a boarding call. It was an intentional act of mayhem, and there's no way that Bertuzzi's return sends any positive message.

Sure you can suspend a guy and give him another chance, but some offenses don't deserve a second chance. He could have killed Moore.

Plus you have teen hockey players urinating on 8-year olds and now, unfugginbelievable, Tonya Harding signed to a minor league team. The Tonya thing is a bit disturbing because the team's current promotion is that they guarantee a fight every game...somehow that violates the spirit of hockey fighting to me, and I love hockey fights. I stood transfixed in a bar with my own personal pitcher of beer watching Saturday night's slugfest and thought it was great (Goalie fighting goalie? What's not to love!) But guaranteeing fights? Stupid...

I love the sport of hockey. The grace of the game, the ahleticism of the players, the speed and intensity with which it is played, the aggressiveness. That being said, Bertuzzi's sucker punch was horrible, but I don't think that he should be criminally charged. Doing so puts us on that proverbial 'Slippery Slope towards Doom.'

Steve Moore knew the hit was coming, you can see them yapping at each other. Did Bertuzzi mean to injure him that badly? I seriously doubt it. (For the record, I was also against the criminal prosecution of Marty McSorley).

If the big issue is the fact that Moore's neck was broken, it needs to be determined what caused his neck to break. Was it the punch itself, or the five guys that jumped on the pile he was at the bottom of?

Suspend Bertuzzi? Yes, definitely. Punishment is not for the police or the public to determine- that's an NHL issue, and it should stay that way.

In my opinion, better (re: consistent) refereeing and getting rid of the instigator rule would go the farthest in making sure things like this don't happen in the future.

I saw the replay and it was obscene. Bertuzzi was obviously trying to start a fight and Moore didn't want to have anything to do with him. I was a little surprised that Moore collapsed immediately. I know it was a gloved punch, but it must have caught him the wrong way. 99% of the time that punch doesn't do anything other then piss the other player off and get him fighting. This was the rare occasion where it put him down and caused serious injury. But he could have avoided causing the injury by not throwing the cheap shot.

Although I am generally ambivilant about involving law enforcement in sporting events, things like this and the McSorley affair are so grotesque that it's necessary. He should be suspended for twice as long as Moore is out on the DL.

I haven't seen the video yet, but from all the written descriptions I would say that a minimum one year suspension is fully justified. I wouldn't be opposed to assessing some sort of additional penalty against the team as well.

That said, hockey players know full well that they are participating in a dangerous sport and that cheap shots and all other sorts of mayhem can occur. It sets a very bad precedent for the courts to get involved in something like this because once lawyers get their foot in the door, you'll never see the end of them. Every questionable hit could quickly become an opportunity for litigation. It is a very slippery slope that anyone who loves sports should not want to go down.

Fighting is one thing, hitting a guy from behind with your glove on and driving him headfirst into the ice lacerating his face and breaking his neck is entirely another. Whatever that is, I don't call it fighting.

Say, I wonder if that's what John Kerry has in mind every time he says he's going to fight for something or somebody. (Now that's a cheap shot.)

I'm ambivalent too, but somehow it seems that a crime is a crime, at least where extreme cases like this one are involved.

Oh, and one more thing: "NEVER play 'Lady of Spain' again!"

While I don't support criminal charges (I don't like the idea of courts possibly reviewing everything that happens in sports) - I think Bertuzzi's suspension should last until Moore is able to play again. And if Moore can't play again, neither should Bertuzzi.

I'm shocked by Michelle's ambivalence and most of the rest of you as well. Moore was nearly killed in a blindside, UNPROVOKED, attack. Forget the hit weeks before, this was horrific. For the record, the reason players drop their gloves in a fight is that it is considered unfair to punch someone with you gloves on. He then drove his head face first into the ice, he tried to fucking kill the guy and nearly succeeded. Lifetime suspension plus five years in prison. The NHL better wake the fuck up, someone will certainly be killed. What do you think might happen in the next game these two teams play?

Jumping a man who has his back turned to you and breaking his neck is not "fighting", even "fighting gone wrong." There is a name for that: assault and battery. And I do believe that that is a crime, even within the confines of a hockey arena.

Suspend Bertuzzi for a year. Suspend Crawford for at least as long, since he likely ordered the attack.

Any solution that doesn't suspend the coach who ordered the attack is a joke.

If Bertuzzi wanted to get even, all he had to do was turn Moore around, push him and drop the gloves. Both players would go at it and that would be it.

Instead, we have this.

Bertuzzi = Dumbass

You guys are all missing the obvious punishment. The league should tear up Bertuzzi's contract. You know, the one he signed last fall for $28 million over 4 years? Nothing will get players' attention like having their guaranteed contracts un-guaranteed for over-the-line stuff.

Worst thing about it all, he took out the wrong Mike Moore.

I believe that any time a hockey player punches another player the police should haul him to jail right then. Any time a hockey player comits felony level violence the same, and maximum effort prosecution. They would quit behaving that badly eventually, although it might take putting half the current NHL players in prison before they learned.

This incident, under Texas law, would be aggravated battery. The only crime that allows a higher sentence is capital murder.