By CHRIS NICHOLS -- SLAM! Sports
For better or worse, the hockey community and media in general are in full Bertuzzi mode these days. The incident itself and the subsequent punishment have easily been the number one topic in the fantasy emails I've received this week. Rather than respond to each of them, I'll just take this opportunity to give a blanket response to the questions in today's Ask Slam! section.
What Todd Bertuzzi did was wrong -- period. He knows it. His teammates know it. Everyone knows it. There have been far worse incidents in hockey history - most of them involving stick work - but that's not even the point right now. Bertuzzi did something that was pretty gutless and that, combined with the recent history between the two clubs and previous threats made, added up to a hefty penalty.
The regular season and full playoffs suspension handed down by the NHL Thursday morning was harsh, but reasonable given the severity of Moore's injury. Bertuzzi not being in the lineup will cost his team any realistic shot at the Stanley Cup this season and I can't think of a more severe punishment in the game of hockey. I'm not going to comment on whether legal action should be taken against Bertuzzi in B.C. because I'm neither a lawyer nor a judge. Either way, Gary Bettman has sent a clear message that the league will not tolerate this type of behavior.
So can we all just stop piling on Bertuzzi now?
The fact that media outlets that wouldn't know a shin pad from a jock strap are making "Bertuzzigate" into an international scandal for the NHL is just plain ridiculous. These are the same media outlets that only come out to report on hockey when something bad happens - you can pretty much set your watch by these hacks.
Was it a cheap shot? Yes.
Was it reprehensible? Yes.
Did he intend to hurt Moore? Yes.
Did he intend to hurt Moore badly, sending him to the hospital with a broken neck? No.
Bertuzzi felt it necessary to exact his own form of revenge on Moore for his hit on Naslund and everyone that watches hockey knows this. Bertuzzi certainly intended nothing more than sending a message to Moore and the Colorado Avalanche though and to suggest otherwise is ludicrous. Obviously the way Bertuzzi went about it was completely wrong. This should not be disputed. But to suggest Bertuzzi meant to inflict anything other than the normal bumps and bruises that would come with a fight - which is was what it seems he wanted from Moore - is taking things too far.
By the way, I think that hit on Naslund by Moore was 100% clean and if Rob Blake had thrown the same hit on Naslund there would have been none of this controversy in the first place. Since a relative no-name in Moore dished it out and Naslund missed games with a resulting concussion, Vancouver was hell-bent on revenge. Watch the tape - it was a clean shot.
Everybody just take a deep breath.
Hockey fans: our commissioner is dealing with the situation. If you watch the sport, you're entitled to your own opinions and I'm not going to try to sway you one way or the other. My opinion is no more valid than any other hockey fan; I just happen to have a forum in which to voice mine.
Non-hockey fans and national media outlets: we really don't care what you think. Go back to reporting about Janet Jackson at the Super Bowl or Mel Gibson's movie or whatever else you think we need to be nationally outraged about. Hockey fans can decide for themselves what they think about Bertuzzi's actions and we don't need you pretending to be concerned for Steve Moore's health when you didn't even know who he was until this week. We also don't need you suggesting rule changes for a sport you know nothing about.
A flagrant incident stemming from a situation that got out of control happened and our sport is dealing with it. Get over it and move on.
And seriously, when does hockey ever make the mainstream media in America in a non-NHL city except when something bad happens? Heaven forbid they show an amazing end-to-end rush every once in a while in the sports highlights instead of a fight. I'm saying this having lived on both sides of the border and I'm fairly disgusted by the American media juggernaut that takes people in and spits them out without regard to anything but sensationalism.
You know what mom says: if you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all. More importantly; you shouldn't be spouting off about things which you know nothing about. We're all so quick to judge others and deflect criticism from ourselves in society today, which is a really sad indicator of the state of the world.
If more people worried about keeping their own house in order and concentrated less on affairs they know nothing about, the world would be a less hostile place. Just some food for thought from this little corner of the hockey world.
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. I do my best to answer all questions within 24 hours, depending on the volume of emails. Please keep the questions short. Your fantasy questions may be answered in our Ask Slam! section.