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Hello Out There, We’re On The Air…

:: In the 60s and 70s, I lived and died by the Montreal Canadiens. The past 25 years has seen a waning in my interest in hockey, with baseball overtaking it for a number of reasons. Last week, Todd Bertuzzi of the Canucks assaulted Steve Moore in the Canucks/Avalanche game. He’s been suspended, and the Vancouver police are investigating.

The fallout has been predictable and at times, pathetic. Proof that the players are out of touch with their own sport and behaviour comes from listening to Wayne Gretzky, Tie Domi, and others, who call the assault “unfortunate”, and use the crutch of “emotions running high out there” as an excuse for what happened. Had Steve Moore been hit by a car, that would have been an unfortunate incident. What happened on the ice was disgusting, premeditated, unwarranted, stoooopid, and the lowest of the low.

An “unfortuate incident”? Oh, puh-LEASE.

Cast no aspersions on Bertuzzi’s character. My guess is, he feels like garbage for what he did, which, in addition to nearly ending Moore’s hockey career, his ability to walk, or his life, also includes reducing his team’s chances of winning the Stanley Cup. His public apology, while heartfelt in my opinion, still lacked a direct apology for what happened. Like others before him in this situation, he refused to say “I’m sorry for what I did to you,” but rather, “I am sorry for what happened.” No one associated with the Vancouver Canucks has apologized to Moore or his family. Bertuzzi, now the fodder of political cartoons, now wants to meet Moore and apologize personally.

Hockey is courting disaster, as it seems to do with as much predictability as the tides. For years the players have had no respect for each other. I’ve been a lifelong Habs fan, and am pleased at their comeback this year. But overall, the NHL is a goon-based, skill-deficient collection of players, only of which a few stand out with their talent and class. Count Sakic, Yzerman, Koivu, Sundin, Naslund, Francis, and a few dozen others, and what you are left with are the Bertuzzis, Tuckers, Marchments – those who seem to relish in injuring others.

Anyone remember Dave Forbes butt-ending Henry Boucha in the face, from behind, breaking his cheekbone with his stick on Jan 4, 1975? The eye injury forced him to eventually retire, and Forbes was charged by the police. Boucha still suffers from impaired depth perception and double vision. Here we are, 29 years later, and nothing has changed.

Don Cherry, Domi, Tucker, and similar goons, have insisted for decades that fighting reduces tension, allows the players to let of steam, etc. This is such a load of hooey. Fight in any other team sport, and you are out of the game. The solution in hockey is simple: 1) ban fighting – you fight, you’re out; 2) increase the severity of penalties for high-sticking, boarding, elbowing, etc. The result: goons will not be needed in the league anymore. What will remain are skilled players, and the quality of the game will increase dramatically. Why this will never happen? Americans want to see fighting in the game, and more viewers means more television and gate revenue, so the NHL will never move in this direction.

Recently I read that bowling is bringing in more viewers in the USA than hockey.


2 Responses to “Hello Out There, We’re On The Air…”

  1. Murph Says:

    I imagine that, when Bertuzzi continued to go after Moore after the ridiculous punch, was because he thought Moore was turtling. Which led to more damage as he was dropped to the ice. Not an excuse, but a peek into the mind of a player.

    I also note that the Canucks were fined, but nobody thought to say anything about the Avs putting Moore onto the ice at that point in the game, when tensions are running way high. Do none of these people think?


  2. Anonymous Says:

    Wanted to comment – Bertuzzi did indeed apologise directly to Moore’s family, and attempted several times to contact Moore himself to apologise in person.

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