Friday, February 18, 2005

Bringing Hockey & Court Battles Together Under One Post

Hockey is cancelled (although the news is now saying they may reneg on the cancellation and make a retroactive save of the season - I guess the finally clued in as to how fucking dumb losing a season is) and yet there's still so much to talk about on that front.
Another high-profile court case - at least if you're a hockey fan.

The Bertuzzi trial.

Really I just need to weigh in on the initial incident.

Bertuzzi blew it. Let me be clear about that, 'cause an awful lot of what follows is going to come across in his defense and appear as though I'm blaming the victim. Well, to a degree, I am. Bertuzzi blew it, but Steve Moore was dressed like he was asking for it. Yeah, yeah, blast me for that one.

So, who is right? I don't think anyone involved is. That makes it really hard to say Bertuzzi deserves to be vilified for time immemorial. It makes it hard to penalize the entire team for the playoffs. (The Canucks lost in the first round in game 7 overtime to the Calgary Flames who went 7 games in the final for the Stanley Cup, losing to the Tampa Bay Lightning. It's hard to imagine hockey history not being significantly different if the best power forward in the game had been allowed to play for the Canucks.)

Who is wrong? Bertuzzi.
What did he do wrong? Really, all he did is punch Moore from behind. Bad choice. No two ways about it. It's against the rules.
What has been exaggerated? Bertuzzi riding Moore head first to the ground. Watch the video. Bertuzzi did nothing of the sort. Yes, they fall, Bertuzzi comes down on top of Moore. He fell. Nothing premeditated about that. And watch what happens next - one - two Colorado player dog-pile Bertuzzi and Moore. That's a lot of sweat drenched, fully geared hockey player. No wonder his neck was broken.
Who is wrong? The N.H.L.
What did they do wrong? Once again the NHL is being contradictory. Moore hits Naslund. Naslund knocked unconscious - cannot play. Moore is suspended? No. Penalized? No. It was a 'clean hit.' Well, that's pretty arguable. But 'it was a clean hit' and the NHL does not have a policy of 'penalizing the severity of the injury.'
The Canucks lost their top scorer on a contentious hit that was not penalized - naturally they were pissed off. And it wouldn't be the first time in the League that players got steamed and developed a sense of retribution. That sort of emotion was once a corner-stone of the game. Ask old-timers. Old rivalries were at the heart of the game and those rivalries were fueled by the tit-for-tat of the physicality of the game. Many detractors of the game cite today's lack of passion as one of the failings of the modern NHL. The NHL covered their ass in a legal sense by saying all the right things before the game, but they really fell short of any actual action - 'cause everyone knows that the rough side of the game buoys a lot of it's gladiator appeal.
How are they hypocrites? This is a no-brainer. Moore - no penalty. Bertuzzi - is still suspended (yes, it's currently moot). If they're aren't penalizing the injury, but are penalizing the intent to injure. I can't see how you can differentiate between the two hits. Both were willful, both were intended to injure. The penalty to Bertuzzi is technically a different issue entirely, but the lack-of-penalty to Moore is absolutely a major cause. Had Moore been properly penalized, the players would have had less to avenge, would have felt less like they needed to take matters into their own hands, less need to set things right.
Who is wrong? Steve Moore.
What did he do wrong? He wouldn't face the music. Why did Bertuzzi sucker punch him? Because Bert gave Moore every chance in the world to drop the gloves and take it like a man. It's the unwritten code of hockey. Hit Gretzky, you gotta duke it out with Semenko. Bertuzzi followed Moore around the ice for that entire shift - and previous ones - challenging him to drop his gloves. Moore was obligated by the code of hockey to put up his dukes and defend his own poor-choice. Punters don't go after super-stars without repercussion. It's the way it HAS to be - or else we won't have super-stars. There ya go. I'm blaming the victim.
Who is wrong? Tony Granato - Avs Coach.
What did he do wrong? It was a blow-out. The Avs were up by 6 goals. There were minutes left in the game. It's a classic bad situation. It's exactly when fights break out. Happens all the time - it's practically expected. (Which in certain way's makes Moore's cowardice all the more reprehensible.) But really, considering that there was 'a bounty' on Moore's head. Granato had NO BUSINESS putting him on the ice. None what so ever. Anyone who thinks otherwise doesn't know hockey - and that includes Granato. The Avs had virtually an entire bench worth of players to put on the ice in lieu of Moore.
Who is wrong? The Canucks.
What did they do wrong? They all blew their sense of vengeance out of proportion. They were all carried away. Practically any of them could have been the one to go too far. It's amazing it wasn't Brad May, who was so fired up that he challenged Avs enforcer Peter Worrell - who seriously outsizes May - to TWO separate fights. May still had the jam to score BOTH of the Canucks goals. He was so charged up that he arguably had the best game of his career on the team's darkest night. Crazy how things go that way sometimes.


Bertuzzi was in error. He's not denying that, he plead guilty. He's taking the brunt of the blame - which is where the reality of the situation breaks down. The culpability on this one is spread vegemite on a cheese-sandwich down under.

Now, here's what makes no sense to me... where is the civil trial filed and being held? Denver. Where did the game happen? Vancouver. Where is the defendant's home? Vancouver. Steve Moore is from Windsor Ontario for fuck's sake! Moore filed in Denver because it provided the best chance of a big payout - possibly bigger than a role-player like him would ever make in his meager NHL career. I think that playing the system like that is as reprehensible as a sucker punch - possibly more so. In my world, that suit gets thrown out of court faster than an Al MacInnis slapshot. File in Vancouver - Canada even - and it's fair game... regretable, but fair game.

Free Bertuzzi and play Hockey!

- K

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