SUN Hockey Pool

Big Bert blow divides fans

The Todd Bertuzzi-Steve Moore incident remains a lightning rod of a topic, both dividing and...

The Todd Bertuzzi-Steve Moore incident remains a lightning rod of a topic, both dividing and inciting hockey fans. (Sun Media/Darren Makowichuk)

STEVE SIMMONS, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:00 AM ET

Five years after the fact, there is not a single issue in hockey that evokes the kind of raw emotion, anger and varied opinion as that of the Todd Bertuzzi-Steve Moore incident.

Reaction to a column written here two days ago about the ongoing civil action has been 20 or 30 times greater than the usual column reaction, with this much being clear: This remains a lightning rod of a topic, both dividing and inciting hockey fans.

And almost everyone seems to take a side, with passion and with vigour.

With those on one side not seeing or comprehending there is another side to the story.

I admit to being one of those. All I see is Moore as a victim and Bertuzzi as the perpetrator. All I see is one career ended, another still going on. All I saw back then was an action so far outside the limits of professional hockey, so heinous, that no price to pay is too much.

"Please keep it up," wrote reader Michael Bookman. "You are a lone but important voice on the issue."

And as passionate as I might be in my view, there are numerous readers who seem just as passionate, just as steadfast -- and maybe Neanderthal-minded -- in their support of Bertuzzi and in their criticism of Moore.

In varying reader emails, Moore was referred to as a punk, a no-talent bum, a cheaper version of Sean Avery, a fourth-line goon who had no business being in the NHL.

That sentiment exists, some of it still within the hockey community itself, but more particularly with fans of the Vancouver Canucks.

The logic of it has always escaped me. The notion that Moore's career was of little value because he happened to be a marginal player is irrelevant to me.

A year ago, for example, one could have said precisely the same thing about his brother, Domenic Moore.

He had been placed on waivers by the Minnesota Wild. He had been given up on by the Pittsburgh Penguins and the New York Rangers. Then came an opportunity in Toronto -- and with it a $5-million US offer for the future.

None of us can say with any kind of certainty what Steve Moore would have turned out to be. None of us can predict the athletic futures of any player.

Yet, those who paint Moore as the perpetrator rather than the victim here -- and this is sadly, not a small group -- do so with complete and absurd conviction.

"I am still outraged that Todd Bertuzzi was suspended, especially long enough to miss the entire playoffs," wrote Canucks fan Kevin Allen.

"I believe Moore is to blame for all this," wrote Joel Workman, who believes the case has no business being in court and will set a bad precedent, whatever the result.

There remains this notion that Steve Moore had it coming to him. After all these years, that offensive stance hasn't gone away.

His neutral zone play with Markus Naslund was a hockey play. I've watched it over a hundred times on tape. Maybe there should have been a penalty called. Maybe not. Maybe Naslund should have kept his head up and protected himself better.

Whatever the case, Naslund was injured: And then the danger began.

How people connect the dots between the Naslund injury and the stalking by Bertuzzi, as though it was an accepted practice, is stunning to me. But yet they do. With a loud voice and occasionally with vulgar tones.

"Live by the sword, die by the sword," wrote Kim Roy.

Another emailer wrote: "Considering Moore's age, his fourth-line status and salary, he stood no better than a 50/50 chance of playing after the lockout even if he hadn't been hurt, so what does he matter? Why should we care about him?"

Most issues in sport live for a day, a week, maybe a month. They are momentarily emotional, but rarely extend beyond that. Just not this incident. Just not this time.

The polarization of the hockey fan on Moore and Bertuzzi is extreme. That may not change upon conclusion of the civil case. That may not ever change.


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