Seven years have passed and in some ways it's as if nothing ever happened.
Todd Bertuzzi is still playing in the National Hockey League and scoring goals for the Detroit Red Wings while his former coach Marc Crawford is being touted for his efforts with the Dallas Stars.
But for Steve Moore, nothing has been the same since he was attacked by Bertuzzi and driven head-first into the ice on March 8, 2004. Since that night in Vancouver, Moore has never played in the NHL and, at 32, never will again.
Instead, he is waiting for news next month that at long last a trial date will be set so his civil suit against Bertuzzi and the Vancouver Canucks - plus all the many legal filings between Bertuzzi, the Canucks and Crawford - can be heard and ultimately settled.
But according to Moore's lawyer, there is one thing that can't be resolved.
"We have the top neurosurgeons in the world on this case and we have reached the point where we can say Steve's brain injury is permanent," Timothy Danson said Monday. "Unfortunately for Steve Moore, he's not only dealing with the loss of his NHL career, he has to deal with the serious damage to his post-NHL career as a result of the brain injury."
When informed of those comments, Bertuzzi's lawyer, Geoffrey Adair, replied: "That's all Danson."
Moore suffered three fractured vertebrae, facial cuts and a concussion after being sucker-punched by Bertuzzi, then a member of the Vancouver Canucks. The former Colorado Avalanche forward was knocked unconscious and laid on the ice for roughly 10 minutes before being stretchered off and taken to a nearby hospital.
Bertuzzi's motivation for the attack had to do with Moore's hit on former Canucks captain Markus Naslund in a previous game that season. Naslund suffered a concussion after taking Moore's shoulder to the head, although officials and the NHL both ruled it a legal play.
In the seven years since the Bertuzzi-Moore incident: Bertuzzi was criminally charged, pled guilty to assault and received a conditional discharge; Moore and his parents filed a multi-million-dollar suit; Bertuzzi and the Canucks have filed counter-claims as have Bertuzzi and Crawford, the Canucks' former coach. Bertuzzi is claiming he was following Crawford's orders to make Moore "pay the price" for the hit on Naslund while Crawford has said Bertuzzi acted in "direct disobedience" for not coming off the ice before the attack occurred.
Danson said the legal entanglement has been a double-edged sword.
"While the delay has been very frustrating, it has also been helpful in this sense: you need the passage of time to fully understand the complete implications of the brain injury," he said of Moore's situation. "If you go to court a couple of years post-injury, it could be argued that it's premature and that we need more time to have the rehabilitation process run its course."
Moore is not talking until the legal proceedings are over. In recent interviews, he said he was still bothered by what happened that night in Vancouver and was experiencing headaches and difficulty concentrating.
Moore was in his first full season with the Avs and was appearing in his 57th game when injured. He had scored five goals and seven assists and recorded 37 minutes in penalties.
Bertuzzi has played for four different teams and scored a combined 89 goals since 2004. He was suspended by the NHL for 13 regular-season games in 2003-2004 and also sat out the Canucks' seven-game playoff series. He forfeited $501,926 (U.S.) in salary and has tried many times to call Moore to apologize.Report Typo/Error