Wednesday, December 22, 2004

No jail time for Bertuzzi

The big story du jour is that Todd Bertuzzi has taken a plea bargain in his case. As a result, he will plead guilty to the charge and will serve community service (and likely anger management classes) as his debt.

As someone who has followed the Canucks and Todd's career very closely, I am satisfied with this resolution, although I guarantee many won't be. There have been people calling for an outright ban from the NHL, jail time, a longer suspension, etc. One common rant is for Bertuzzi to sit out as long as Steve Moore is unable to play hockey.

I wonder, however, if Bertuzzi's act warrants the harshest punishment ever meted out by the league. Since the mainstream U.S. media jumped onto this case and began running the video over and over, Bertuzzi has unfortunately become the poster boy for the supposedly 'violent' NHL. Granted, what he did was off-the-chart stupid, but this is not the first ugly incident the league has seen, and I see little reason why an example must be made of Bertuzzi when that wasn't the case in the past.

Does anyone recall the suckerpunch Matt Johnson dealt to Jeff Beukeboom in 1998? Where were the nightly highlights of that? The police? The fanboys calling for Johnson's head? I guarantee that well over 90 per cent of my readership doesn't even know the incident. Johnson, a known goon and repeated offender, was suspended for 12 games. Beukeboom? His career was over at age 33.

People need to stop acting like there isn't a precedent for what Bertuzzi did. If the response needs to be harsher (Bertuzzi has already been suspended for much longer than Johnson was), let's at least acknowledge the faultiness of suspensions in the past. In my opinion, the only reason people are jumping on Bertuzzi is his status as a superstar who has made few friends as a result of the abrasive way he plays. It's unfortunate such things account for his treatment.

Keep in mind that there will be a pending civil case against Bertuzzi. If, indeed Moore is unable to play hockey again, expect a large compensation amount to be given. In my mind, being dragged through the court system (again) will be punishment enough for Bertuzzi.

UPDATE Well, Bertuzzi changed his plea to guilty today in court. The most interesting part of the Canadian Press story in the link is that for the first time we get a run through of what symptoms Steve Moore has.
Loeppky said the spinal damage is no longer a factor and the soft-tissue damage continues to improve, but Moore still suffers from post-concussion syndrome

Doctors reports show that Moore continues to have reduced sensation in his right shoulder, problems with short-term memory, reduced energy levels, mood variability and dull headaches.

His physical activity is still minimal and consists mostly of light workouts
Looks like a fairly strong case for a civil trial, if you ask me.


At 5:16 p.m., December 22, 2004, Blogger Sea Otter said...

Does Steve Moore have any pride at all? He is a 26 year old athlete who should have long since recovered from any "injuries" he sustained. Instead, he gives a laundry list of vague, difficult-to-define problems, sounding suspiciously like someone preparing for a trial over an auto accident. It's also a little tough to stomach the fact that he has been in seclusion since the incident, largely to avoid compromising his chances at a big buck settlement.

Now that a deal has been worked out, however, he wants to make a "victim impact statement". Spare me.

No doubt that Bertuzzi did something reckless and stupid, and is now paying the price. Someone close to Steve Moore, however, needs to tell him to snap out of it, stop trying to milk this thing, and get on with his life.

At 5:23 p.m., December 22, 2004, Blogger James Mirtle said...

Unless you have some insider information with regards to Moore's injury, it's hard to speculate on how injured he may or may not be. Head trauma isn't something that can be easily determined by simply looking at the impact. Look at how much time Donald Brashear missed when he was whacked by McSorley — and Brashear is a considerably more solid man than Moore. It's not out of the question that these are in fact his symptoms.

At 5:44 p.m., December 22, 2004, Blogger Sea Otter said...

You could well be right, James, and I know I sounded like a heartless cynic with my comments. It's just that something about Moore's actions and behaviour since "the incident" don't quite sit right. At least Brashear was willing to answer questions and engage reporters after a short while. Moore, OTOH, has gone into hiding, and reports on his health and progress have been vague and spotty. He himself could have cleared those questions up months ago, but he chose not to. But now he wants to make a "victim impact statement"?

To me, Moore's actions, including that one and only maudlin press conference he held, all feel very contrived and lawyer driven. Anything lawyer driven always has that slightly greasy smell to it...

At 5:48 p.m., December 22, 2004, Blogger James Mirtle said...

If his career is indeed over, Moore has every right to get compensation from Bertuzzi. My guess is that every action Moore has taken has been on the advice of his lawyer, which is unfortunately the way things work these days.

Personally, I'm very interested to hear the victim impact statement. Moore worked very hard to get to a professional level in hockey, and Bertuzzi's stupidity may have taken that away. I can't imagine how I'd feel if someone robbed me of the chance for a career in the NHL.

At 10:28 p.m., December 22, 2004, Blogger aquietgirl said...

Well, I don't see how Steve Moore could've really clarified anything if his post-concussion syndrome is still lingering, this long after the incident.

If a guy as tough and skilled as Lindros can't make it back after post-concussion syndrome, I don't think Moore's going to have a good chance at it.

PS: I remember Johnson and Beukeboom.


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