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Moore's ability to return to hockey in doubt

DENVER -- Colorado forward Steve Moore is walking without help and expects to be released from a hospital by Tuesday, just two weeks after his neck was broken by Vancouver's Todd Bertuzzi.

When -- or whether -- he will return to the ice is still unknown.

"That's got to be a tough situation," Avalanche center Peter Forsberg said. "He has to do what he has to do and he might be out for a while. I don't know how long he is going to be out for. Hopefully, he's going to recover and be 100 percent and get back playing."

Team doctor Andrew Parker said Moore broke two vertebrae and the nerves in his neck were stretched, but there was no paralysis or evidence of spinal cord trauma. He also sustained a concussion and deep lacerations when Bertuzzi hit him from behind and drove him to the ice during March 8 in Vancouver.

Moore is expected to wear a neck brace for six to 12 weeks, and his physical therapy will begin after he recovers from the concussion and neck injury. Parker was not sure how long that might take.

"His overall recovery and progress is uncertain, including his ability to return to professional hockey," Parker said in a statement. "While Steve is making progress, his recovery time frame remains indefinite.

"He can walk without assistance, but will need to continue wearing a cervical collar."

Bertuzzi was suspended for the rest of the season and playoffs, and will have to apply for reinstatement before next season. The hit was widely believed to be retribution for a check by Moore in February that forced Vancouver star Markus Naslund to miss three games.

The Avalanche were glad to hear their teammate was finally going
home.

"You don't want to see one of your friends or teammates just in the hospital all the time," Avalanche forward Peter Worrell said. "It is a good feeling for him. Just for his spirits, it's got to be good not to eat the hospital food every day and get more than the basic cable to watch."

Moore's agent, Larry Kelly, passed along his client's appreciation of all the good wishes sent his way.

"Steve is hoping to address the media sometime in the future, but wishes to convey now his sincere thanks and appreciation to everyone who has expressed their concern for his well-being, and to the Avalanche organization and doctors for their tremendous care and support," Kelly said.

The Avalanche also got good news from Forsberg.

Last year's Hart Trophy winner skated hard in practice Monday
and could be back Tuesday against Chicago after missing 17 games
with a groin injury.

"We said that when it's 100 percent, I should be able to come
back," Forsberg said. "I've been skating pretty hard lately, and
it's getting better and better. So I don't think it should be too
far away. I hopefully get a couple of games in before the
playoffs."

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.