There's a team player

MIKE ULMER -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 9:46 AM ET

Steve Moore took one for the team yesterday. He took one for his brothers, Dom and Mark, who hope to make a living as NHLers.

He took one for the sport that nurtured him, a sport he loves without reservation, even though it has left him with a broken body and a shattered spirit.

No lawsuit against the NHL, at least for now. That was the key element that came out of the press conference Moore and his lawyer, Tim Danson, convened yesterday at the latter's Bay St. office.

Yesterday, Moore spoke of "the sport of hockey, the game I love," and the incalculable damage inflicted on the sport by Todd Bertuzzi's attack last March.

Moore, of course, feels the effects of that attack every moment of every day. He has sustained profound damage to his neck and is coping with post-concussion syndrome. He takes several hours of therapy a day. He is without an NHL contract and, in view of his health, unlikely to ever see one. He was a fourth-liner, remember.

That Bertuzzi can continue his career, unimpeded by the courts, is but a minor point. First offenders are routinely assessed absolute or conditional discharges.

Likewise, that Moore wasn't allowed time to prepare a victim-impact statement he could deliver in person was a tragedy but a lower-case one. The judicial system is often skewed toward the needs of the Crown and the accused and not the person who incurred the actual damages.

Anyone see any news value here?

No, the great tragedy of the Steve Moore story is the fact that Moore's greatest desire will go unfulfilled.

Moore said he would feel better "as long as there are lessons learned and actions taken."

There is no chance of that. For one thing, the game is in a deep freeze. The Steve Moore story won't even be a footnote when hockey returns.

That the game can right itself through its own heavy sanctions -- an indefinite suspension to Bertuzzi and a $250,000 fine assessed to the Canucks -- would warrant a hearty laugh if it weren't so bloody sad.

The game cannot police itself. Neither can Microsoft. Neither can General Motors nor the federal government nor Canadian Tire.

No one institution can. Institutions and corporations and governments exist to propagate their own futures. That's why we have cops and courts and if those fail, litigation.

And litigation, a big, whopping lawsuit, more than another dose of negative public opinion, more than a conditional discharge to Todd Bertuzzi, is what would have brought Steve Moore his wish for justice.

If you required any proof of how blind the NHL is on the question of violence, you need only listen to Brian Burke after the attack. Plucked from the bosom of the NHL's corporate culture to run the Canucks, Burke railed about media conspiracies and spoke of a possibly quick return for Moore. Among NHL types, he's considered enlightened.

The league could end violence in one swift move. Never mind Bertuzzi. From now on, any player who deliberately injures another loses his right to play and his corresponding salary until the player he hurt comes back. The greater the injury, the greater the penalty. Texas Law.

TRUE INTENTIONS

That the league stopped short and will always stop short of that kind of sanction, of course, says everything about its true intentions.

Married to violence, the NHL has vengeance as an unfortunate kin. Litigation is the only hammer big enough to induce the NHL to turn the precept of an eye for an eye on itself.

Steve Moore has already paid an awful price for the industry's tolerance of violence. You can't blame him for refusing, for now at least, to pick up his sword.

And that's the greatest tragedy of this wretched story. Only the man whom the game has broken so terribly has the power to fix this terribly broken game.


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