NHL: Settlement reached in Moore-Bertuzzi lawsuit

TORONTO — A settlement has been reached in Steve Moore’s lawsuit against NHL forward Todd Bertuzzi, more than 10 years after the bloody, on-ice attack ended Moore’s career.

Geoff Adair, a lawyer for Bertuzzi, confirmed the case was “settled in its totality” but said Tuesday the terms are confidential. The multimillion-dollar lawsuit had been set for trial Sept. 8.

“We are pleased that the resolution of this matter allows the parties to turn the page and look to the future,” NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said in an email.

Messages to Moore’s lawyer, Bertuzzi’s agent and the Canucks were not immediately returned.

On March 8, 2004, Bertuzzi, then playing for the Vancouver Canucks, hit Moore from behind. The Colorado Avalanche rookie crashed face first to the ice, leaving him with a concussion and fractured vertebrae.

Moore alleges the Canucks had put a bounty on him following his check that injured their captain, Markus Naslund. Bertuzzi pleaded guilty to criminal assault causing bodily harm. He was sentenced in December 2004 to one year of probation and 80 hours of community service.

There has been years of legal wrangling since. The civil case was filed in Ontario court in 2006 but was slowed by delays.

Moore, now 35, never fully recovered from his injuries and was unable to keep playing. In March, a day before the 10th anniversary of the play, he told The Canadian Press he still has headaches and low energy.

“I lost my entire career in my rookie year,” he said. “I think any player put in that situation would do the same thing. I can’t recover anything else. I can’t recover my career, the experience of living out my dream from the time I was 2 1/2 years old of playing in the NHL.”

It all started on Feb. 16, 2004, when Moore flattened Naslund with an open-ice hit that left Vancouver’s scoring star with a concussion. The play drew no punishment from the NHL.

Major retaliation was expected. Vancouver’s Brad May was quoted as saying there was a “bounty” on Moore. But when the teams next met on March 3, with NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman in the house, there were no incidents.

Not so on March 8, a 9-2 Colorado victory. Moore squared off in a fight against Matt Cooke in the first period, and it appeared that was the end of it. But things got nasty in the third period.

Moore was challenged again. He turned away. Bertuzzi skated up behind him, tugging on his jersey, then punched him from behind and fell on top of him as others piled on. Moore lay motionless on the ice in a pool of blood before being removed on a stretcher and taken to the hospital.

Bertuzzi was suspended for the rest of the regular season and the playoffs, which cost him about $502,000. He didn’t play during the 2004-05 lockout season but was reinstated for the 2005-06 season. He has since continued his career, most recently with Detroit.

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