Wednesday, March 10, 2004

I am not going to defend Todd Bertuzzi's hit on Steve Moore a couple days ago. What I will say is I don't think it was as bad as people are making it out to be. The RESULT is bad...Moore is out with a fractured neck (which has been determined not to cause any long term paralysis). The hit itself was a cheap shot. An attack from behind on a smaller player. It was cowardly. That being said, I've seen worse hits. Somehow, someway it just landed in the right spot to hurt the guy bad. If he gives him a blow to the back of the head and they fall to the ice, start to fight and all hell breaks loose on the ice between the teams, none of this gets scrutinized nearly as close. It was also payback. Moore's hit a couple weeks earlier on Vancouver's captain was also a cheap shot. The only difference is the league deemed it "legal." Warren Sapp's cheapshot this past football season was deemed legal too, but anyone who saw it knew it was a cowardly cheap shot. The best story I've read on this situation comes from Bill Clement of

Todd Bertuzzi deserves to be suspended for 20 games for his attack on Steve Moore. It was a cowardly, premeditated act against a smaller player that did plenty of damage. Even worse is that Bertuzzi went after Moore from behind. A suspension lasting 20 games would potentially cost Bertuzzi seven playoff games and send a message to the rest of the league that this type of behavior is not allowable.
But it should be pointed out that, were it not for the NHL's instigator rule, this situation would likely have resolved itself back on Feb. 16 after Moore knocked Canucks captain Markus Naslund out for three games with a concussion. Any player deemed the instigator in a fight earns an extra two-minute minor penalty and an additional 10-minute misconduct. But without the threat of additional penalties the Canucks would have been able to police the situation immediately, send a message and be done with it.

As it is, though, the instigator rule is allowing certain players to skate around using their sticks as weapons without fear of retribution from the other side. I have yet to meet a player or coach who likes the rule. Abolishing it would be a good thing for the game because teams would then have the ability to regulate themselves before the league has to step in.