Steve Moore still seeks resolution

Updated: March 7, 2014, 11:34 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

MONTREAL -- It has been 10 years since Steve Moore's NHL career ended with an attack by former Vancouver Canucks forward Todd Bertuzzi.

Moore, 35, says he still suffers from headaches and low energy, even if he feels better overall and wants to get on with his life.

But there has been no closure for the former Colorado Avalanche center, whose $38 million lawsuit against Bertuzzi and the Canucks is still in the courts after numerous delays.

A trial date has been set for Sept. 8.

[+] EnlargeSteve Moore
AP Photo/Chuck StoodySteve Moore suffered a concussion and three fractured vertebrae.

"I think about it at times like this," Moore said Friday in a phone interview with The Canadian Press, one day before the March 8 anniversary. "When the anniversary comes around, it's hard not to reflect on the impact this has had on my life, which is dramatic.

"At the same time I think a lot about how grateful I am that this wasn't worse. Every time I watch it I have the same reaction other people have, which is shock and disgust. It's just a little stronger when it's yourself you're looking at and when you're aware of everything that happened in the three weeks leading up to it -- the threats and all those things."

Moore suffered a concussion and three fractured vertebrae in the on-ice attack. He has since started a foundation to help people with head and neck injuries.

"Over the last few years, with the number of concussion injuries, especially with high-profile players, the public has been educated in a major way, but we still have a long way to go, not just in making people aware of this, but in avoiding them and treating them," he said.

Moore also is still dealing with the lawsuit, which could set a standard for determining responsibility for on-ice behavior and injuries.

Moore said the suit is not so much about the money as being compensated for the loss of his dreams.

"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 2½ years old of playing in the NHL."

Asked whether he has forgiven Bertuzzi, Moore spoke instead of being frustrated at the repeated delays in the trial and the resistance put up by the opposing side in the lawsuit.

"I'm a very forgiving person," said Moore, who lives in Toronto with his wife and two small children. "Everyone saw what happened on March 8, 2004, but what they haven't seen in what's gone on since then.

Todd Bertuzzi #44 of the Detroit Red Wings
Dave Reginek/NHLI via Getty ImagesTodd Bertuzzi pleaded guilty to a charge of assault causing bodily harm in the Steve Moore attack.

"To me, it's just been a continuation of what happened, just off ice and away from the cameras. It's not a situation that happened 10 years ago and it's over and everything's been resolved and moved on.

"There's nobody that would like to move on more than me. Every day I try to move on, and I have moved on in other areas of my life, but this isn't over."

It all started Feb. 16, 2004, when then-rookie Moore flattened Canucks captain Markus Naslund with an open-ice hit that put Vancouver's scoring star out with a concussion but was deemed legal by the NHL.

Major retaliation was expected. But when the teams next met on March 3, with NHL commissioner Gary Bettman in the house, there were no incidents. The fireworks came in their March 8 game, a 9-2 Colorado win.

Moore squared off against Matt Cooke in the first period, a fight that was considered a draw. 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 other players piled in.

Moore lay motionless on the ice in a pool of blood before being taken off on a stretcher.

Bertuzzi was suspended for the rest of the regular season and the playoffs, which cost him about $502,000, and he didn't play during the 2004-05 lockout season. But he was reinstated for the 2005-06 campaign and has since continued his career, most recently with Detroit. He also pleaded guilty to a criminal charge of assault causing bodily harm and was sentenced in 2006 to a year of probation and 80 hours of community service.

After five years visiting the best specialists he could find, Moore was told that he had made a remarkable recovery, but none would give him clearance to play hockey again. His career was over.

"That was a very difficult time for me," he said. "It took a heck of a lot longer than I expected, but I was expecting to go back and I never thought about anything other than returning to play."

Bertuzzi has alleged then-Vancouver coach Marc Crawford urged his players to make Moore "pay the price," while Crawford has claimed Bertuzzi disobeyed instructions to get off the ice before Moore was attacked.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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