Bertuzzi reinstated to NHL

Todd Bertuzzi Bertuzzi

NEW YORK -- Todd Bertuzzi's NHL banishment is over, 17
months after his punch to the head of Colorado's Steve Moore.

Bertuzzi is allowed to play hockey again, Moore's injuries from
the attack might make his return impossible.

The Vancouver Canucks forward was reinstated by commissioner
Gary Bettman on Monday, nearly a year and a half after Bertuzzi's
blindside punch left Moore with a broken neck and a murky playing

"I anticipate that there will be those who will say that Mr.
Bertuzzi's 17-month suspension is inadequate," Bettman said in a
statement. "I disagree."

Bertuzzi was suspended for the final 13 regular-season games of
the 2003-04 season and the Stanley Cup playoffs. His punishment
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

"In light of the unusual circumstances surrounding the 2004-05
season, it is appropriate to consider not only the significant
impact the suspension has had on Mr. Bertuzzi's NHL career, but
also the impact that the league's suspension has had on Mr.
Bertuzzi's ability to play professional hockey anywhere during this

Bertuzzi and Moore met separately with Bettman for Bertuzzi's
reinstatement hearing on April 26. The Vancouver right winger
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.

"Mr. Bertuzzi's actions were deserving of an appropriately
harsh sanction," Bettman continued, describing the hit as going
"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

The suspension cost Bertuzzi $501,926.39 in salary. He is due to
earn more than $5.2 million from the Canucks in the upcoming

Bertuzzi broke his silence following his NHL reinstatement by posting a letter on the
Vancouver Canucks' Web site on Tuesday.

"I want to take this opportunity to thank Canucks fans and the
city of Vancouver for all of your kind wishes," Bertuzzi said.
"Your support, coupled with that of my teammates, Canucks
ownership, management and staff and my agent Pat Morris have been a
great help in these very difficult times."

As per terms of his criminal probation, Bertuzzi will not be
permitted to play against Moore. That may never come to pass,
however -- as Moore is still feeling effects of the hit and wasn't
re-signed by the Avalanche.

"He is quite disappointed, given he is unable to resume his NHL
career and may never resume his NHL career," Tim Danson, the
lawyer representing Moore, told The Canadian Press. "It's
disappointing to him that Mr. Bertuzzi is able to resume his career
at this particular time. Steve has an uncertain future. He's got
health challenges to deal with.

"While he maintains a very positive attitude . . . at this
point he really is in the hands of doctors who will have to make
the determination whether or not he will be able to play again."

Moore's Denver attorney, Lee Foreman, didn't immediately return
a call from The Associated Press.

Bettman said in his summary statement, which consisted of 10
pages and nearly 5,000 words, that Bertuzzi's behavior will be
watched closely this season.

"While I believe that reinstatement of Mr. Bertuzzi at this
point in time is appropriate and consistent with a 'fresh start'
for the 2005-06 season, I want to make it clear that any future
acts by Mr. Bertuzzi involving a review for possible supplemental
discipline will require an in-person hearing," Bettman said. "If
discipline is to be imposed, Mr. Bertuzzi should understand that it
will be more severe than might otherwise be the case for similar
acts committed by other NHL players."

Bertuzzi was suspended indefinitely for the hit that left Moore
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

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.

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. After
facing up to 18 months in prison, he was given a year's probation
and sentenced to 80 hours of community service.