March 11, 2004  
Volume 97, Issue 84  

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NEWS

NHL crackdown needed after vicious hit: critics

By Mark Weir
Gazette Staff

It was the punch heard across the country. Monday night’s National Hockey League game between the Colorado Avalanche and The Vancouver Canucks involved an incident in which Vancouver power-forward Todd Bertuzzi inflicted one of the ugliest acts in NHL history.

In what many are calling a premeditated act of violence, Bertuzzi grabbed the Avalanche’s 25-year-old rookie Steve Moore from behind, laid a vicious blow to his head and followed it by pile-driving him face-first into the ice. Moore lay motionless in a pool of blood before leaving the ice on a stretcher. The score was 8-2 in favour of Colorado at the time of the incident.

“Clearly, Bertuzzi intended to sucker-punch Moore,” said Western associate kinesiology professor Ron Watson. “He was reckless in what he did.”

Watson, a former Western hockey coach, said he believes the act was in apparent retaliation for Moore’s earlier hit on Bertuzzi’s linemate, Vancouver forward Markus Naslund.

Three weeks earlier, Moore was involved in a controversial incident with the Canucks when his shoulder-to-chin hit on Naslund knocked the star Canucks player out of the game.

“[The hit] will be a watershed only if there is some period of a jail sentence of what should be a guilty verdict,” Watson replied when asked about the sort of impact Bertuzzi’s hit will have on the NHL. Bertuzzi is not only likely to receive harsh discipline from the NHL, but he is also being investigated under the Criminal Code of Canada.

“Payback is where the problem stems from,” said Kevin Wamsley, director of the International Centre for Olympic Studies. “The NHL wants [violence in hockey] to go away, but it needs to deal with the issue.”

Wamsley noted his concern for the generally acceptable level of violence in the game and the fact that suspensions do not appear to deter such violence.

Western men’s hockey coach Clarke Singer said he was shocked when he saw the Bertuzzi incident. “I can’t believe it, when you look at the actions he took,” he said. Singer said he sees no benefit of having violence in the game. “We have a very high quality league [in Ontario University Athletics], only having one fight in the past 85 games.”

 

 

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