You don’t have to be Nancy Grace to know that the jury pool for Steve Moore’s lawsuit against Todd Bertuzzi, the Vancouver Canucks and the NHL is going to be far different in September of 2012 than it would have been in March of 2004, when Bertuzzi broke Moore’s neck in a goon attack.
Come with us, friends, to the golden days following Bertuzzi’s mugging of Moore. In that uncomplicated era, we were told that Moore was a weasel who got what he deserved, that the concussion suffered by Moore was a figment of his lawyer’s imagination. (“Who ever gets hurt like that in the NHL?”) The lawsuit was a dodge by a marginal player who wasn’t going to make it in the NHL to collect a fat paycheque. The sentiment was summed up by this 2004 blogpost on hockeyforum.com: “Steve Moore is a gutless, unapologetic, headhunting puke who got what he deserved. Karma is good.”
Bertuzzi? He was unfairly crucified by hockey Luddites. At least that’s what we heard from Brian Burke, the truculent general manager of the Canucks at the time Bertuzzi did his Unforgiven number. (“Because he is not warm and fuzzy with you, you’ve taken this opportunity to kick the crap out of him, and I think it’s been just shameful,” Burke told the media at the time.) Ah, the good old days for the Don Cherry Brigade.
Had Moore tried to assemble a sympathetic jury in 2004 he’d have been stymied by a hockey culture sold by many mainstream media about the events of March 8, 2004. Sadly for Bertuzzi and the Canucks, whose present ownership was handed the poison chalice of this case by a previous regime, the citizenry of Ontario has been brought up to speed by the media on what can happen when a 230-pound man punches you in the head and then falls with all his weight on your unconscious body.
They received a nice media tutorial on the effects of concussions just the other day from Sidney Crosby, the game’s greatest player. Crosby’s not sure when he’ll play again after getting his brain concussed twice last season. It was not pretty. As of this writing, however, no one in the media has accused Crosby of trying to cash in his disability insurance nor have they labelled Crosby as a malingerer for not getting back on the ice posthaste.
The jury pool will also have learned in the press how salaries for players such as Moore have escalated in the days since his career was ended by Bertuzzi. Expectations for players with Moore’s ability have jumped since his lawyers initially computed lost income from the assault. Holy Johnnie Cochran, what a bind for all involved in defending Moore’s lawsuit!
Of course, they might have avoided this conundrum a long time ago had they come up with a fair settlement of the monies Moore might have expected to make had his career proceeded in the same fashion as his brother Dominic’s career has done. But that ship has sailed. Sources tell Usual Suspects that Moore, who has not worked steadily since the attack, wants his day in court. Several media outfits would like to televise the trial if Ontario’s legal system would just crawl into the 21st century.
Imagine, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman cross-examined live for several days on daytime TV about aggression in hockey. The pulse quickens! As the blogger said, karma.
While it awaits its fate on the Bertuzzi-Moore case, the NHL has taken the time to institute a social media policy for the coming season. While the league is not trying to muzzle the musings of @BizNasty2point0 (Paul Bissonette), it does wish to remind players that you can’t say something on Twitter that you wouldn’t say in a radio or TV interview. So dating tips, handicapping other sports events and your inner thoughts on whether Barack Obama was born in Hawaii are likely to trip you up.
As well, “there is a total blackout period on the use of social media on game days, which for players begins two hours prior to opening faceoff and is not lifted until players have finished their postgame media obligations. The suggested blackout period for hockey operations staff is longer, beginning at 11 a.m. on game days.” Well, there goes the first-intermission, “Boy, do we smell tonight” tweet from the Ottawa Senators’ locker room.
Apparently @BizNasty2point0 has bought in: “People asking about NHL’s new policy on Twitter. I think its good. I don’t even play much and I don’t tweet on game days. Plenty of off days.” Drat.
If you missed Canada’s win over Tonga at the Rugby World Cup, you missed the birth of a star. Adam Kleeberger – more specifically Adam Kleeberger’s Grizzly Adams beard – has become iconic after the Alberta-born flanker led Canada to an upset in the wee hours of Wednesday. If you can’t get down with Kleeberger, you can’t be Canadian. Canada’s next game, on TSN, is against France early on Sunday (with a rebroadcast later in the day). Fear the beard.
Truth stranger than fiction
Author Joe McGinniss’s new book on Sarah Palin is alleging that the 2008 Republican vice-presidential candidate slept with NBA star Glen Rice in 1987 when she was a sportscaster in Anchorage, Alaska. Rice has subsequently confirmed the report. Palin’s people are keeping quiet. Supply your own headlines.