Bertuzzi Reinstated to NHL After Suspension
NEW YORK – Vancouver Canucks (search) forward Todd Bertuzzi (search), whose blindside punch left Colorado's Steve Moore (search) with a broken neck, was reinstated by the NHL on Monday.
Bertuzzi was suspended for the final 13 regular-season games of the 2003-04 season and the Stanley Cup playoffs. His banishment continued throughout last season's NHL lockout, which kept Bertuzzi from playing in the World Cup of Hockey last September and the past two world championships.
He also was barred from playing in any European league last season.
Bertuzzi and Moore met with NHL commissioner Gary Bettman (search) for Bertuzzi's reinstatement hearing on April 26. The Vancouver right wing needed the commissioner's approval before being allowed back into the league.
"I find that the appropriate discipline to be imposed for Mr. Bertuzzi's conduct on March 8, 2004 is the suspension that has been served to date," Bettman said in a statement.
The suspension cost Bertuzzi $501,926.39 in salary. He is due to earn $5,269,333 from the Canucks in the upcoming season.
Moore might never play again because of Bertuzzi's vicious blow in Vancouver on March 8, 2004. The NHL waited over a year to hold Bertuzzi's hearing because of the lockout. Bettman waited nearly four more months to announce his decision to let him onto the ice.
Bertuzzi was suspended indefinitely following the hit. Moore was left with a broken neck, a concussion and no guarantee that he'd still be a professional hockey player.
With the Avalanche ahead 8-2 in the game, Bertuzzi grabbed Moore from behind, punched him on the side of his head and then landed on top of Moore, driving his head into the ice. The bloodied Colorado player was removed on a stretcher.
The attack was seen as retaliation for a hit Moore put on Vancouver star Markus Naslund that left the Canucks captain with a concussion and sidelined him for three games.
"Mr. Bertuzzi's actions were deserving of an appropriately harsh sanction," Bettman said. "There is no question that Mr. Bertuzzi's actions clearly went well beyond what could ever be considered acceptable behavior in the National Hockey League. Mr. Bertuzzi must be held responsible for the results of his actions, and the message must be delivered loudly and forcefully that the game will not tolerate this type of conduct."
Bertuzzi first asked for his reinstatement hearing last December, around the time he pleaded guilty in a Vancouver court to criminal assault and was given a conditional discharge. He faced up to 18 months in prison.
Moore is an unrestricted free agent after not being re-signed by the Avalanche.