God bless hockey players for willing to be politically incorrect. Now if only he could make some of them a little smarter.
I speak of course of Markus Naslund, wintering as so many of his colleagues are in Sweden, but still disconcertingly available by phone.
A money grab. That, the Vancouver Canucks captain told a reporter, was the real motivation for Steve Moore's lawsuit against Todd Bertuzzi.
"This is just a guy trying to hit a home run (financially)," Naslund said. "Someone who wasn't good enough to play."
First, the history.
Moore laid out Naslund with a bodycheck that the Canucks insisted was gratuitous, last February.
Naslund suffered a concussion and missed three games and the Canucks spoke openly of injuring Moore in retaliation.
"There's definitely a bounty on his head," said Vancouver forward Brad May at the time. "Clean hit or not, that's our best player and you respond. It's going to be fun when we get him."
That moment came when the two teams met March 8 in Vancouver. Moore had already fought Matt Cooke in the first period. Several other players had jabbed at him before Bertuzzi attacked Moore from behind and smashed his head into the ice before falling on him.
The impact left Moore with a broken neck, a concussion and facial injuries. Moore woke up in a Vancouver hospital, unsure if he would ever walk again. He has suffered debilitating post-concussion affects.
A 26-year-old rookie at the time of the injury, Moore is a free agent whose chances of returning to the game are, because of his non-star status and the possibility of a recurring injury, considered remote.
"He's suing everyone so he can make money," Naslund said. "I've got no respect for him at all. Even talking to his teammates (two of Naslund's teammates with Modo are Moore's Colorado teammates, Peter Forsberg and Dan Hinote), it seems evident he doesn't have a lot of support in hockey."
There is, it seems, no end of scorn to be heaped on the battered career of Steve Moore.
He was still in hospital when Brian Burke, then the Canucks president, described Bertuzzi as you would Mother Teresa, chastised the media for being so hard on his player and pitched the idea that Moore could be back in action in a matter of months.
Then Bertuzzi was allowed to enter a plea bargain arrangements in B.C. without Moore being present to read his victim impact statement. The crown read the statement instead and Bertuzzi received a conditional discharge.
Now, Naslund, oblivious it seems to the devastating nature of Moore's injuries, is telling him to suck it up.
"I'm not saying what (Bertuzzi did) was right. But if it was me, I'd be doing everything I could to get back and play and show everyone the character I have ... instead of trying to sue everyone."
In fact, Moore is showing everybody the character he has.
He is fighting for a normal life, fighting to avoid being discarded by the game as a casualty of a culture of "vigilanteeism," fighting to make the game better for those who will follow. Sound familiar?
You can debate whether permitting fighting fosters violence, but the NHL did everything it could.
Bertuzzi was suspended indefinitely and lost just over $500,000 US in salary. The Canucks were fined $250,000 for their role in the attack.
Clearly, respect doesn't exist between players. Honour is dead and if you don't think so, re-read Naslund's comments.
What will bring change is financial repercussions, the kind Moore can bring. Money talks and the players have amply shown, nothing else gets their attention.