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Steve Moore Speaks: “I can't explain how scary it is."

Colorado forward makes his first statement since the Todd Bertuzzi assault.

By

Updated March 30, 2004
Wearing a large neck brace, Steve Moore of the Colorado Avalanche made his first public statement since the infamous evening of March 8, when his season ended at the hands of Todd Bertuzzi.

Moore is recovering from three fractured vertebrae, nerve damage, a concussion and facial cuts after being jumped from behind by Bertuzzi during a March 8 game between Colorado and the Vancouver Canucks. He presided over a guarded news conference before attending the March 29 game between the Avalanche and Los Angeles Kings.

He cracked a joke: "This is certainly not how I envisioned earning my first press conference, not even being able to put a tie on here."

He said he had little recollection of the events that ended his season: "I can't explain how scary it is to kind of wake up to a nightmare… I'm playing a game, and the next thing I know, I'm lying in a room with medical personnel standing over me. I have a neck brace on, and I'm having my equipment cut off of me and I'm strapped down and I really have no idea what was going on."

He limited his comments on the attack itself: "I think that type of stuff doesn't have any place in the game. That's all I want to say about that."

He expressed optimism regarding the future of his career: "Hopefully one day I'll be able to play again."

A whole lot more was left unspoken.

Moore did not talk about the Vancouver Canucks or Todd Bertuzzi. He declined comment on Bertuzzi’s suspension and the continuing police investigation. He said a lawsuit isn’t "something I’ve thought about," which also suggests that the possibility has not been discounted. And he did not extend the hand of forgiveness.

But it is worth asking whether forgiveness has been sufficiently sought.

The Vancouver Canucks’ general manager has not done his team or his player any favors on the public relations front. Brian Burke’s most remarkable performance since the attack came at a March 11 news conference, called after the NHL announced Bertuzzi’s suspension and the Canucks’ $250,000 fine.

Burke deflected responsibility with admirable dexterity (at one point calling Bertuzzi’s attack, "a few seconds on the ice during which you might think he acted inappropriately"), questioned the severity of Moore’s injuries, complained about the fine and digressed into a tirade against the media for vilifying Bertuzzi.

"We're not condoning what Todd did. We're not expecting to walk out of here without a penalty," he finally added. But nobody could mistake Burke’s routine for an act of contrition.

And while there is no reason to doubt Bertuzzi’s public apology, it was carefully worded. Through tears, he referred to the assault only as "what transpired" and "what happened out there." Bertuzzi has not spoken since, which is understandable. When he does resurface, he ought to consider using more direct language, unconditionally acknowledging his culpability.

In the meantime, it is hard to begrudge Steve Moore’s refusal to take a phone call from his assailant.

At this point in the story, the sports pages tend to expect forgiveness. Any gesture of clemency from Moore would be spun into stories of brotherhood, chivalry, the manly virtues of sport and the triumph of the human spirit.

But Steve Moore isn’t playing along, not yet, anyway. From his vantage point – limited as it is by a chin-to-chest neck brace – he has likely decided it's best to leave his options open, both legal and otherwise. Anticipating the months of recovery and rehab that lie ahead, he might also have decided that it is not his job to make Todd Bertuzzi feel better about himself.

More on Todd Bertuzzi

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