Former Colorado Avalanche forward Steve Moore had been seeking $68 million in damages from NHL player Todd Bertuzzi and the Vancouver Canucks. Ed Andrieski/Associated Press
Less than three weeks from the start of what could have been a lengthy civil trial and after eight years of litigation, former Colorado Avalanche centre Steve Moore has reached a settlement with Todd Bertuzzi and the Vancouver Canucks.
Geoff Adair, a lawyer for Bertuzzi, confirmed the case has been "settled in its totality" but said the terms are confidential.
Moore had been seeking $68 million in damages, and the civil lawsuit was scheduled to begin on Sept. 8, which originally was filed in 2006.
"We are pleased that the resolution of this matter allows the parties to turn the page and look to the future," NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said in an email.
On March 8, 2004, Bertuzzi, then with the Canucks, jumped on Moore from behind, driving his body to the ice. Two more players piled on — one from each team. Moore lay motionless for 10 minutes before being taken off on a stretcher. He had three broken vertebrae and concussion. He hasn't played professional hockey since.
Bertuzzi pleaded guilty to criminal assault causing bodily harm. He was sentenced in 2006 to one year of probation and 80 hours of community service. He was also suspended by the NHL, a ban that lasted 17 months because of the 2004-05 NHL lockout.
Bertuzzi would later claim that then-Vancouver coach Mark Crawford said in the dressing room during the March 8 game that Moore must 'pay the price' for a hit on Cancucks captain Markus Naslund in a previous game involving the two hockey teams.
Naslund missed three games as a result of the Moore hit, but there was no penalty, and the game referee considered the hit legal. There was no supplementary discipline upon further review by the NHL.
Loss of his dream
Moore, now 35, said in the March interview, just a day before the 10th anniversary of the incident, that the lawsuit was not so much about the money as being compensated for the loss of his dreams.
"I lost my entire career in my rookie year," he said. "I think any player put in that situation would do the same thing. I can't recover anything else. I can't recover my career, the experience of living out my dream from the time I was two and half years old of playing in the NHL."
The civil suit accounted for $38 million in lost hockey wages, punitive and compensatory damages, plus $30 million in lost wages from a post hockey career. Moore has a Harvard degree but claims his post-concussion syndrome is preventing him from getting any kind of work commensurate with an Ivy League education.
In the eight years since the civil suit was filed, through the ongoing court proceedings leading up to trial, it has been learned that the NHL refused to pay Moore's disability benefit unless he dropped his suit that Bertuzzi filed and dropped a counter claim against Crawford, that Bertuzzi and the Canucks had a secret deal to share costs in case they lost, and that early in the civil matter there was a settlement discussion.
Adair asked if Bertuzzi could settle this for $1 million. When it came time for an actual offer, it was just $350,000.