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