Keep Bert out — lawyer

LANCE HORNBY -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 9:06 AM ET

Todd Bertuzzi should remain in the stands, the lawyer for Steve Moore said after Bertuzzi's reinstatement hearing took place yesterday in New York.

Tim Danson made the comments following the seven-hour proceedings, much of it involving a one-on-one between Moore and National Hockey League commissioner Gary Bettman. Moore's playing career remains in doubt from neck and post-concussion injuries suffered in an on-ice attack by Bertuzzi on March 8, 2004, in a heated game between Moore's Colorado Avalanche and Bertuzzi's Vancouver Canucks.

"All interested parties, including Mr. Bertuzzi, Mr. Moore, the Canucks and the NHL Players' Association, had a full and fair opportunity to participate in the hearing and to offer relevant evidence and testimony," NHL executive vice-president and chief legal officer Bill Daly said in a statement. "There is no immediate timetable for a decision."

As expected, the two principals were not in the same room with Bettman and Daly. The hearing began around 10 a.m., though Bertuzzi didn't have his say until mid-afternoon. Bertuzzi is under indefinite suspension, and Danson said that given Moore's injuries, he should remain ineligible to play.

"We made it clear we have some serious (medical) obstacles to overcome," Danson said. "It's our view reinstatement would be premature.

"We've had an opportunity to express, as has Steve, directly to the commissioner the impact this has had on him because we think Steve's recovery and rehabilitation is a very important factor in the commissioner's consideration."

Bertuzzi's agent Pat Morris and Canucks general manager Dave Nonis also were present yesterday, with the NHLPA monitoring the proceedings.

Bertuzzi missed the final 13 regular season games of 2003-04, as well as Vancouver's seven-game first-round playoff loss to Calgary and has been overlooked for selection by Team Canada. Bertuzzi was fined $501,926.39 US of his $6.8-million salary.

"I think he should be reinstated," Vancouver teammate Brendan Morrison told the Canadian Press yesterday. "Some people will disagree. It's not to take anything away from Steve Moore. Obviously, he suffered a lot, but to start the healing process for Todd, the best thing is to reinstate him. That would be a big step toward him being accepted, in my opinion."

With the lockout still on, Bettman can take an easy route and defer Bertuzzi until at least October, the earliest the NHL could begin play. But most observers expect he will make a firm yes or no call, perhaps by the end of this week.

Moore also has filed a civil lawsuit in Denver, which he has named Bertuzzi, Canucks forward Brad May, Canucks coach Marc Crawford, former Canucks general manager Brian Burke and Orca Bay Sports and Entertainment, owner of the Canucks. The Canucks are expected to respond to that in court by next week, but if the suit goes ahead, it might not be heard until autumn.

In December, Bertuzzi pleaded guilty in a Vancouver court to assault causing bodily harm and received a conditional discharge. The sentence carries the chance of no criminal record.


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