A dream slipping away

Steve Moore, without an NHL contract and unlikely to see one because of his injuries, continues to...

Steve Moore, without an NHL contract and unlikely to see one because of his injuries, continues to work out in the hopes of returning to hockey. (Sun File/David Lucas)

STEVE SIMMONS -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 11:07 AM ET

Almost every day is the same. A two-hour workout in the gym. An hour on the ice. An hour with a therapist.

He has no job, no income, no insurance. He lives at home, outside Toronto, with his parents.

This is Steve Moore's reality, three years to the day after the cowardly attack by Todd Bertuzzi ended his brief National Hockey League career. Tonight is his uncomfortable anniversary.

"When the day comes, it really hits you," said Moore, in a rare interview yesterday. "It kind of hits home, everything that happened to me.

"In some ways, the time has gone incredibly fast. It does not seem like three years. In other ways, it seems like like a long time ago. It's a bit of both. It's an unusual feeling."

We can say Steve Moore's hockey career is over. He won't or can't say it. Every day is about getting back. Every day is about getting medical clearance.

He spent his whole life trying to be an NHL player. Now he spends his whole life trying to be one again.

"It's difficult," said the 28-year-old Moore. "I try and notice the progress I've made, not being all the way back. I've made a lot of progress.

"The intensity of the workouts has grown. But it's not a perfect science. I haven't been cleared to resume contact of any type."

He doesn't know when -- or if -- clearance will ever come. And even when he trains at a high level, there are still symptoms of his multiple injuries to endure.

By now, others would have given up. Others would have taken the paltry insurance settlement that an NHL rookie is entitled to for having his career stolen from him before it ever began.

Moore has never been much like others. Others don't graduate from Harvard. Others didn't become 10-goal scorers in the American Hockey League but still visualized the future. Others don't come from a home where three brothers find a way to be educated and all play professional hockey.

"It's not an easy road now," said Moore. "I look at it as just one of the many obstacles I've faced. My whole life was devoted to being a hockey player. I dedicated myself to that. The injury took my dream away. That devotion keeps me going.

"To have your life ripped away in such a fashion, at such an early time, in your rookie year, it's something I don't want to accept. That's what's been pushing me. You're not going to let yourself get knocked out. It becomes a commitment. I still want to play.

"I try not to get discouraged. I try not to let (setbacks) get me worked up. It can be distracting. I try to focus on what I can control ... sometimes that's hard."

He has never spoken to Bertuzzi. Doesn't want to. Doesn't care to.

"To this day, Todd Bertuzzi never apologized to Steve and never attempted to," said Tim Danson, Moore's lawyer in a civil suit filed against the NHL player. "He made public apologies when he needed to be reinstated and times like that. But that was it."

"Given the facts," said Moore, "it's pretty clear he's not someone I'd want to deal with, someone I'm interested in hearing from."

The multi-million dollar lawsuit, like most lawsuits, proceeds slowly. An attempt to have it settled out of court with NHL arbitrators went nowhere. To date, documents between lawyers from both sides have been exchanged, but no discovery or examination has taken place.

If and when this goes to court, not only will Bertuzzi go on trial, but so will the sport, the league, everyone. It has the potential to be that powerful and that damaging.

"When you're a hockey player, that's what you are," said Moore. "Every day, from the moment you wake up to the moment you go to bed, that's what you are. To lose what you are, that's very difficult. You lose yourself."

You lose just about everything.

"I live a frugal lifestyle" said Moore. "I'd saved some money from when I played but not a lot. I have no income. The only insurance would come to me in the event my career is totally ended and because I didn't play very long, even that would be rather limited. You realize you're not taken care of.

"That's a sad situation."

Sad today will be watching the replays again, on all the sports television programs. Steve Moore won't look away. "There are times when you can't avoid it," he said. "Still, it's painful to watch."

Painful to live.


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