TORONTO — A settlement has been reached in Steve Moore’s lawsuit against NHL forward Todd Bertuzzi, more than 10 years after the infamous on-ice attack ended Moore’s career.
Geoff Adair, a lawyer for Bertuzzi, confirmed the case has been “settled in its totality,” but said the terms are confidential.
The multimillion-dollar lawsuit had been scheduled to go to 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.
Media reports later Tuesday suggested there was a snag in finalizing the deal, but Adair did not respond to follow-up requests for comment.
Messages seeking comment from Moore’s lawyer, Bertuzzi’s agent and the Canucks were not returned Tuesday.
The notorious hit happened on March 8, 2004. Bertuzzi, then playing for the Vancouver Canucks, hit Moore from behind, sending the hapless Colorado Avalanche rookie crashing face-first to the ice and leaving him with a concussion and fractured vertebrae.
Moore alleges the Canucks had put a bounty on his head following his check that left their captain Markus Naslund injured. Bertuzzi pleaded guilty to criminal assault causing bodily harm for the hit and was sentenced in December 2004 to one year probation and 80 hours of community service.
There has been years of legal wrangling since then. The civil case was filed in Ontario court in 2006 but was marred by several delays.
Moore, now 35, never fully recovered from his injuries and was unable to continue his career. In an interview earlier this year, he told The Canadian Press he still suffers from headaches and low energy.
Moore said in the March interview, just a day before the 10th anniversary of the incident, that the lawsuit was 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 two and half years old of playing in the NHL.”
It all started on Feb. 16, 2004, when Moore flattened 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. Vancouver’s Brad May was quoted as saying there was a “bounty” on Moore’s head. 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 frame. Moore was challenged again. He turned away. Bertuzzi skated up behind him, tugging on his jersey, then punching him from behind and falling on top of him as other players piled on.
Moore lay motionless on the ice in a pool of blood before being stretchered off and taken to hospital.
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.
— With files from Stephen Whyno
Chronological look at Steve Moore-Todd Bertuzzi case
THE CANADIAN PRESS
TORONTO — A settlement was reached Tuesday in Steve Moore’s lawsuit against NHL forward Todd Bertuzzi, more than 10 years after the infamous on-ice attack that ended Moore’s career. Here are some key dates in the saga:
Feb. 16, 2004: Colorado Avalanche rookie Steve Moore levels Vancouver Canucks captain Markus Naslund with an open-ice hit. The league rules the hit is legal despite the fact that Naslund suffers a concussion. Canucks players were later quoted as saying there was a bounty on Moore’s head following the attack.
March 3, 2004: The Canucks and Avalanche face off amid fears of retaliation, but with NHL commissioner Gary Bettman at the game, there are no incidents.
March 8, 2004: The expected retaliation comes in a rematch between the two teams. Canucks forward Todd Bertuzzi punches Moore from behind and falls on top of him, allowing other players to pile on. Moore is removed from the ice on a stretcher and ultimately suffers a concussion and three fractured vertebrae. The injuries ultimately end his NHL career.
March 10, 2004: Bertuzzi makes a tearful apology to Moore.
March 11, 2004: The NHL suspends Bertuzzi for the remainder of the regular season and the playoffs and fines the Canucks $250,000. Bertuzzi wouldn’t return to the ice for 17 months as a result of the suspension and the lockout that cancelled the 2004-’05 hockey season.
June 24, 2004: Bertuzzi is charged with assault after an investigation into the hit.
Dec. 17, 2004: The International Ice Hockey Federation suspends Bertuzzi, barring him from playing for overseas teams during the 2004-’05 lockout or representing Canada in international competition.
Dec. 22, 2004: Bertuzzi pleads guilty to criminal assault causing bodily harm for the hit and is sentenced to one year probation and 80 hours of community service.
February 2005: Moore attempts to file a lawsuit against Bertuzzi in Denver. Months later, the presiding judge would throw the case out, ruling it would be better handled in Canada.
Aug. 8, 2005: Bertuzzi is reinstated to the NHL.
Dec. 21, 2005: Bertuzzi once again finds himself at the centre of controversy when he is named to the Canadian Olympic team for the Turin Winter Games.
February 2006: Moore and his family succeed in filing a multimillion-dollar lawsuit against Bertuzzi, the Canucks and then-parent company Orca Bay. The suit, filed through the Ontario Superior Court, seeks to have Moore compensated for lost wages and other damages.
June 23, 2006: Bertuzzi is traded from the Canucks to the Florida Panthers.
Feb. 27, 2007: The Panthers trade Bertuzzi to the Detroit Red Wings.
July 2, 2007: Bertuzzi signs a two-year deal with the Anaheim Ducks.
March 2008: Moore expands his lawsuit to name former Canucks head coach Marc Crawford. Bertuzzi sought to have Crawford included based on the claim that his NHL contract compelled him to take orders from his coach.
July 2008: Crawford claims Bertuzzi disobeyed direct orders to get off the ice when he attacked Moore.
July 7, 2008: Bertuzzi signs one-year deal with the Calgary Flames.
Dec. 16, 2008: Bertuzzi and Moore meet face-to-face in a court-ordered mediation session intended to help resolve the lawsuit. The case ultimately proceeds.
Aug. 18, 2009: Bertuzzi returns to the Detroit Red Wings as a free agent.
September 2011: Moore’s lawyer, Tim Danson, discovers that Bertuzzi, Crawford and then-Canucks owner Orca Bay reached a settlement on how to share the liability should Moore win the lawsuit. Knowledge of the deal surfaced after Bertuzzi had dropped the third-party claim against Crawford. Danson ultimately won an appeal to have the terms of the settlement disclosed.
Feb. 23, 2012: The Red Wings re-sign Bertuzzi to a two-year deal worth more than $4 million.
Aug. 19, 2014: Bertuzzi’s lawyer says a settlement has been reached in the lawsuit but that terms are confidential.