Steve Moore is living in his hometown of Thornhill, Ontario. He is working out, lifting weights and skating. He makes periodic visits to the renowned Cleveland Clinic and to his Toronto doctors, but he said he still has concussion-related problems that have prevented the physicians from clearing him to take contact and to attempt to play.
But he hasn't given up on trying to return to the NHL.
This is Steve Moore's life, three years since the notorious March 8, 2004 incident where Todd Bertuzzi hit the Avalanche forward from behind, drove him into the ice and tried to hit him as Colorado's Andrei Nikolishin fell on the pile and attempted to restrain Bertuzzi. It has been three years since Moore was wheeled off the General Motors Place ice with three fractured neck vertebrae, a concussion and facial lacerations.
"It kind of hits you in the face, like, 'Wow, it's been three years,'" Moore told The Denver Post on Wednesday. "When you're going about your daily rehabilitation and working out and trying to get healthy, you don't want to try to think about the time that has gone by. But there are certain landmarks or dates that kind of bring it home for you.
"I'm just skating on my own," he added. "That's the only thing I've sort of been allowed to do. It's so frustrating to do that, especially while I'm working these long periods of time, hard and for many hours a day, and then going to the doctors and having them say, 'No, you're not allowed to do it.' It's pretty difficult to go back and put you nose to the grindstone again. But I've always been consistent that way. I've always had the ability to get myself motivated."
Moore, 28, said he physically is "much, much better than I was," but added he still has the "same symptoms that I've had all along. As I continue to push it, I've been able to achieve a higher level of training before running into them ... They're things like headaches, lethargy and trouble focusing, and feeling a sort of light-headedness, especially later in the day, like things are in slow motion."
Moore's contract with the Avalanche expired after the 2003-04 season and has had minimal contact with the organization since.
Moore said he remains grateful for the "tremendous and uplifting" support he has received from fans, both in Colorado and around the world, adding that the Avalanche was "very supportive after the incident" and he still feels "like part of the organization." Team officials, he said, "let me know they would be there for me if I needed anything, and I hope that's the case. But I guess that's how it goes when your contract is up. You're kind of on your own to deal with the situation."
Moore's lawsuit against Bertuzzi and the Canucks' ownership is pending in Ontario, and he and his family are seeking $19.5 million. (His earlier suit against Bertuzzi, the Canucks and their ownership, plus Brian Burke, Marc Crawford and May, was tossed out in Denver District Court for jurisdictional reasons in 2005.) Though the NHL tried to bring representatives of the two sides together to discuss a settlement, Moore's Toronto attorney, Tim Danson, said Wednesday he is planning that the case will go to trial, but "sometime in 2008," at the earliest. He said the Moore camp would "always entertain reasonable offers to settle, but right now there are no discussions and we're pushing ahead full tilt."
"That's obviously something I don't have any control over," Moore told The Post when asked if the perception of him in team front offices might lessen his chances of getting an offer if he is cleared. "I would hope and expect that anybody in those [NHL front-office positions] would recognize that I've been put in a difficult position and I'm just trying to do the best I can with it ... That's why I've done hardly any interviews at all. I'm not trying to draw any more negative attention to the game than this has brought. I'm trying to focus on doing what I wanted and needed to do, which is to just get back to the career that I spent my entire life trying to get to."
Because he has been advised not to comment on any issues that stray into territory covered in his lawsuit, Moore is tight-lipped about Bertuzzi. "It's tough for me because I'm still in a position where I'm not sure of the total effects of the injuries," he said. "I try not to judge people, but at the same time, his actions speak for themselves."
Has Moore, who has a degree in environmental sciences and public policy from Harvard, pondered giving up on returning to the league and pursuing a career in something else?
"That's a tough question," he told the newspaper. "The reason it's a tough question is when you're 100-percent committed to overcoming an obstacle, or at least the way I operate, I'm not saying, 'Well, if this works out, great, but otherwise I can do this and this, or I can be moving towards this other career while I'm trying to get back.' You're either 100-percent committed to something or you will not be successful at it. I have not given any thought to doing anything else.
"Until the doctors tell me unequivocally that I'm not coming back and I won't ever be cleared, I guess I won't think about it."