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‘It sucked for hockey:’ Former Canucks enforcer Brad May talks about the Todd Bertuzzi-Steve Moore incident

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Photo credit:Screengrab: HockeyFights/Sportsnet
Zach Laing
14 days ago
It’s a month and a day away from an incident that changed the way the sport of hockey was talked about, when former Vancouver Canuck Todd Bertuzzi laid his infamous sucker punch on Steve Moore.
The incident, which happened on March 8th, 2004, resulted in a firestorm of media coverage and litigious action through the court system. It all stemmed from an incident week prior, when on Feb. 16th of that same year, Moore, who played for the Colorado Avalanche, laid a headshot on Canucks captain Markus Naslund.
Their franchise player was lucky to walk away with just a concussion and bone chip in his elbow, missing just three games, but Moore was never penalized on the play, nor did he face any supplemental discipline. When the two teams met for the first time since, on March 3rd, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and then executive vice-president Colin Campbell were in attendance for a game that ended in a tie with nothing major shaking out of it.
But five days later, things were different. Moore fought Canucks tough guy Matt Cooke, and while another of their tough guys, Brad May, danced with Peter Worrell twice in that first period.
Then, in the third period, Bertuzzi took to the ice trying to instigate a fight with Moore. While the latter declined, skating away, Bertuzzi grabbed him from behind, pulling him back by the jersey, and laying a devastating punch that sent Moore to the ice.
And now, nearly 20 years later, Brad May reflected on the day as a whole, in an episode of Department of Discipline with Ryan Pinder and former NHL’er Jay Rosehill:
Pinder: You were around one of the most, I guess, media type circus things with the sport. Steve Moore, Todd Bertuzzi. You were a Canuck when it happened, right?
May: I had the puck on my stick right when that happened.
Pinder: That’s when hockey is on CNN, and it’s never for the good reason. It’s only stuff like this the sport get spotlights in certain places. What do you remember about that, and how nutso was that circus that followed the Bertuzzi-Moore thing?
May: I have so much to say about that whole experience. I think it sucked for hockey, I think it was really, really tough on Todd Bertuzzi, incredibly tough on Steve Moore. Obviously, he made a decision after the fact to not play hockey and then go a litigous route against Todd Bertuzzi, Brian Burke, Marc Crawford, the Vancouver Canucks, Orca Bay, Brad May. I went to court. I was sued. I was a hostile witness to Steve Moore’s camp through this whole thing.
With that being said, the moment it gets into the other hands, and the game doesn’t police it or take care of it, and it gets into the civil action, you lose control. That’s kind of where it went. I think it’s complete bullshit and I think it was awful. It was awful for hockey, a black eye for hockey. Todd Bertuzzi’s a good dude, one of my best buddies. Did he do something wrong? He deserved a suspension, he deserves that kind of critisism. He didn’t mean to break a man’s neck, he didn’t do that, number one. He hit him from behind, yet Steve Moore, honour code, a hockey player who just knocked out the leading scorer in the National Hockey League.
Let’s see what would happen if somebody knocks out Nikita Kucherov right now, or Connor McDavid. The world is waiting for redemption and retribution at that point, even today, in every market. Steve Moore didn’t do anything about that. I’m not saying anybody that anybody is guilty of one thing or not, but the world went really heavy and hard on the Vancouver Canucks and Todd Bertuzzi.
I get thrown in there being part of it. Best game I ever played in the National Hockey League. Five minutes of icetime, two goals, 51 minutes of penalties and nobody talks about it because it’s overshadowed. (laughs)
You can listen to the full episode below.

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Zach Laing is the Nation Network’s news director and senior columnist. He can be followed on Twitter at @zjlaing, or reached by email at zach@thenationnetwork.com.

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