NHL vice president Colin Campbell announced this morning that Vancouver Canucks forward Todd Bertuzzi will be suspended for the rest of this season and the playoffs for his brutal hit Monday night against the Colorado Avalanche’s Steve Moore.
Bertuzzi’s eligibility to play next season will be determined by NHL commissioner Gary Bettman before the start of training camp. Bettman will take Moore’s health and recovery into account when making the eligibility determination, according to Campbell.
The Canucks’ organization was also fined $250,000. “We believe the Vancouver organization ultimately bears some responsibility … to moderate the focus of its team. We believe that more could have, and should have, been done,” Campbell said in a statement.
Bertuzzi came up against Moore from behind, sucker-punched him in the back of the head, and drove his head down onto the ice. Moore landed face-first with the 245-pound Bertuzzi on top of him. Bertuzzi was drawing his arm back for another hit when one of Moore’s teammates stopped him.
“We felt Todd Bertuzzi had given up his right to play the rest of the season,” Campbell said Thursday. “It was wrong. It wasn’t anything else but wrong.”
Bertuzzi, the Canucks’ leading scorer, expressed remorse in a statement read Wednesday night before Vancouver’s game against the Minnesota Wild. “These comments are for Steve. I had no intention of hurting you. I feel awful for what transpired,” he said. “To the game of hockey and the fans of Vancouver, for the kids that watch this game, I am truly sorry. I don’t play the game that way. I’m not a mean-spirited person and I’m sorry for what happened.”
The British Columbia Solicitor General and Vancouver police are also investigating the incident, and criminal charges could be filed.