Question of forgiveness

MIKE ULMER -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 9:09 AM ET

This job is simple enough.

State an opinion, hopefully a well-reasoned one and hold to it.

You don't stick too long writing columns that include the phrase "there are two ways at looking at this." People read you to get an opinion, hopefully theirs.

Likewise, when you reach an opinion, defend it viscerally and passionately.

Readers don't need you always to be right.

They pay because you always are sure.

That's why I want to apologize.

No mas. I give.

Todd Bertuzzi and Steve Moore can't be solved. There is no right, not even varying degrees of wrong.

It should be so simple. Todd Bertuzzi suckers Steve Moore from behind last March. Moore probably can't play anymore. So NHL commissioner Gary Bettman should give Bertuzzi a lengthy suspension, maybe as much as a year on the sidelines when the league finally resumes, and then we can all move on with our day.

My inclination always has been to side with the powerless and Steve Moore certainly meets that criteria. Even the chances of a symptom-free life seem cloudy.

The three broken vertebrae in Moore's neck and his post-concussion syndrome are an indictment of a repugnant culture of vigilantism inside the game.

Heightening the inclination to heap more punishment on Bertuzzi was Moore's inability to read a victim impact statement to in a B.C. court at Bertuzzi's sentencing last December.

I shed no tear over Bertuzzi's inability to play in Europe because the league was locked out. Hockey bodies routinely uphold each other's suspensions. It's just his tough luck to break a man's neck on the verge of the game's decent into labour hell.

Likewise, I was fine with the lawsuit. Litigation is the only way for Moore to regain his career earnings. A suit would at long last prompt the NHL to re-examine its tacit acceptance of a culture of revenge.

But the whole story is starting to feel wrong.

For one thing, the Crown always has disputed Moore and his lawyer Tim Danson's view that he wasn't invited on several occasions to furnish a victim impact statement.

Vigilantism has existed in hockey since they decided to round up the puck. But so has forgiveness.

Eddie Shore nearly killed Ace Bailey with a hit from behind and ended his career in 1933.

The fallout from the hit prompted Bailey's dad to board a train to Boston with a gun. But when Shore apologized and offered his hand, Bailey took it.

Moore will not.

Reconciliation is what sets hockey apart. No matter how savage the competition, every Stanley Cup playoff ends with handshakes.

Most recently, the Snyder family of Elmira forgave Dany Heatley for killing their son, Dan.

Unlike Claude Lemieux, who never apologized for his vicious hit from behind on Kris Draper in 1996, Bertuzzi has been publicly remorseful.

Extending Bertuzzi's sanction won't restore Moore's health. The lawsuit, more than any NHL sanction, will give players pause.

If the game is shut down for another year, should Bertuzzi miss two years? If he does, Bertuzzi will incur the longest NHL penalty for violence not for his action but for the inability of the league and its players to make a deal.

And the issue of victim rights is a chancy one. Should a player be suspended for a longer period if he injures someone indisposed to forgiveness?

And so I will answer the question of Bertuzzi's suspension with another.

How much is enough? How long is a piece of rope?


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