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Todd Bertuzzi (born February 2, 1975) is a Canadianmarker professional ice hockey player with the Detroit Red Wings of the National Hockey League. His longest tenure was with the Vancouver Canucks, with which he enjoyed his most successful seasons, as well as being involved in the infamous Steve Moore incident in 2004. In his prime, he was a world-class power forward and was named to the NHL First All-Star Team in 2003.

Bertuzzi has also played for the New York Islanders, with whom he was first drafted (23rd overall in the 1993 NHL Entry Draft), the Florida Panthers, the Anaheim Ducks, and the Calgary Flames. Internationally, he has competed for Team Canada in the 1998 Men's World Ice Hockey Championships and 2000 World Championships, as well as in the 2006 Winter Olympics.

Playing career

Early career (1991–98)

Bertuzzi started playing major junior in the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) for the Guelph Storm beginning in 1991–92. Drafted in the 1993 NHL Entry Draft by the New York Islanders, 23rd overall, he returned to the OHL for two more seasons. In his last season with Guelph, he recorded 119 points – sixth overall in the league – as well as 33 points in 14 playoff games en route to an OHL Finals loss to the Detroit Junior Red Wings.

After nearly earning a Memorial Cup appearance in 1995, Bertuzzi made his NHL debut the next season. In his rookie campaign with the Islanders, he managed 18 goals and 39 points. He scored his first NHL goal on October 7, 1995, against Blaine Lacher of the Boston Bruins in the first game ever played at the Bruins' Fleet Center. However, for the next two seasons, Bertuzzi struggled to progress and spent 13 games of his sophomore season in the International Hockey League (IHL) with the Islanders affiliate Utah Grizzlies. About three quarters into the 1997–98 season, he was traded along with Bryan McCabe and a third round draft choice in the 1998 NHL Entry Draft (Jarkko Ruutu) to the Vancouver Canucks in exchange for Trevor Linden.

Vancouver Canucks (1998–2006)

Bertuzzi immediately began producing in Vancouver after the trade, tallying 15 points in just 22 games to complete the season. However, after beginning the 1998–99 season on the Canucks top line, he was limited to just 32 games after suffering a fractured tibia in November and a second injury near the end of the season.

Bouncing back from an injury-plagued season, Bertuzzi emerged as one of the Canucks' prime contributors, finishing with 25 goals (second on the team only to Markus Näslund) in 1999–00. At the end of the season, he was awarded the team's Most Exciting Player Award, as voted by the fans. He would receive the award three more times during his stint with the Canucks.

After receiving an automatic 10-game suspension in October 2001 for leaving the bench to fight, Bertuzzi broke out with linemates Markus Näslund and Brendan Morrison as what was widely considered as the league's most effective line, colloquially known as the West Coast Express (after the local train system). Beginning on January 3, 2002, Bertuzzi embarked on a team record-tying 15-game point scoring streak ending on February 4 with 7 goals and 12 assists. Despite missing 10 games, Bertuzzi finished 2001–02 third in league scoring with 85 points, behind linemate Markus Näslund and Jarome Iginla. The following season, he posted career-highs with 46 goals (third in the league), 51 assists and 97 points (fifth in the league), appeared in his first NHL All-Star Game and was named to the NHL First All-Star Team.

Following his impressive season, Bertuzzi signed a four-year $27.8 million contract extension with the Canucks making him the highest paid player in team history. Perhaps Bertuzzi's most career-defining moment unfortunately occurred near the end of the 2003–04 campaign. On March 8, 2004, Bertuzzi retaliated to a Steve Moore hit on Markus Näslund in a previous game by sucker-punching him from behind late in the third period. Moore was severely injured and Bertuzzi was subsequently suspended indefinitely, finishing with 60 points on the season. Prior to the incident, he was voted in as an All-Star Game starter for the first and only time in his career.

Inactive in 2004–05 due to the lockout and his ongoing suspension, Bertuzzi returned in 2005–06 and managed 71 points. However, it was clear that the effects of the Steve Moore incident, which included assault charges and constant media coverage, lingered. Playing on the road, he was consistently heckled and booed by fans throughout the NHL.

Post-Vancouver (2006–present)

Realizing the necessity of a fresh start for Bertuzzi as well as the club (it was considered that Bertuzzi's situation was a distraction for the Canucks), general manager Dave Nonis shopped him around in the summer and traded him to the Florida Panthers. In a blockbuster deal, he was packaged with goaltender Alex Auld and defenceman Bryan Allen for superstar Roberto Luongo, Lukáš Krajíček and a sixth round draft-pick on June 23, 2006. After seven full seasons with the Canucks, Bertuzzi ranked seventh all-time among franchise scoring leaders with 449 (ranked ninth as of November 2009).

Bertuzzi with the Ducks in 2007.
Bertuzzi scored a goal in his Panthers debut against Boston on October 6, 2006, but experiencing back spasms early in the 2006–07 season, Bertuzzi opted for surgery on November 2, 2006 that would sideline him for at least twelve to sixteen weeks. Playing just 7 games for Florida, his debut goal was the only one he ever scored for the Panthers. As Bertuzzi's contract was set to expire at the end of the his first season with the Panthers, he was sent to Cup contenders Detroit at the trade deadline for prospect Shawn Matthias and conditional draft picks. Bertuzzi and the Red Wings advanced to the Western Conference Finals, where they lost in six games to the eventual Stanley Cup champions, and Bertuzzi's next team, the Anaheim Ducks.

Bertuzzi signed with the Calgary Flames in 2008.
On July 2, 2007, Bertuzzi signed a two-year deal worth $8 million with the Anaheim Ducks as an unrestricted free agent. This reunited him with Brian Burke, who was the Canucks' general manager during Bertuzzi's tenure in Vancouver. Playing in 68 games, he managed 40 points with Anaheim. However, as Burke required more cap space to re-sign core players in the off season, Bertuzzi was placed on waivers. He would sign a one-year, $1.95 million deal on July 7, 2008, with the Calgary Flames, reuniting him with Mike Keenan, his first coach in Vancouver and the general manager who traded for him in Florida.

Before the start of the 2008–09 season, Bertuzzi switched jersey numbers from 4 to 7, in honour of his boyhood idol, Phil Esposito. The numbers 44, which Bertuzzi wore in New York, Vancouver and Detroit, and 4, which he wore in Anaheim, were already taken in Calgary by Rhett Warrener and Jim Vandermeer. He scored his first goal with the Flames, deflecting a Dion Phaneuf shot, on October 12 in a 5-4 overtime loss to the Vancouver Canucks. Late in the season, however, he was sidelined with a knee injury and underwent arthroscopic surgery on March 3, 2009, to repair knee cartilage. He finished his only season in Calgary with 44 points in 66 games.

On August 18, 2009, Bertuzzi accepted a one-year contract offer from the Detroit Red Wings with a reported salary of $1.5 million.

International play

Bertuzzi debuted internationally for Team Canada at the 1998 World Championships in Switzerlandmarker. In 6 games, he managed 3 points, but Canada failed to qualify for the medal rounds and finished sixth. Two years later, Bertuzzi competed at the 2000 World Championships in Russiamarker. His second tournament appearance was a more productive for Bertuzzi, as he scored 9 points in 9 games – first in team scoring and fourth overall. However, he would not medal once more, falling to Finland in the semi-final.

In 2006, Bertuzzi was controversially selected to play for Team Canada at the Winter Olympics in Turin, Italymarker. His inclusion, along with that of Dany Heatley and Shane Doan, was discussed at length by the Canadian Olympic Committee. The committee had concerns stemming from the Steve Moore incident and Bertuzzi's probationary status, but subsequently approved his representation of Canada at the Olympic games. According to a Canadian Press article, "[COC president] Chambers said the [unusual meeting] was prompted by some media concerns raised over the three athletes participating in the Games. The fact it took the committee so long to approve the list means there was some debate."

Bertuzzi posted three assists and a +1 rating in six games. However, Canada failed to advance past the quarterfinals, losing to Russia, and finished in seventh place overall, failing to defend its gold medal in 2002. It also marked Bertuzzi's third medal-less international tournament.

Steve Moore incident

Bertuzzi grabbing Moore's jersey before punching him.
On February 16, 2004, during a Vancouver-Colorado game, Avalanche center Steve Moore injured Canucks team captain Markus Näslund by checking him in the head area while Näslund was reaching for a puck ahead of him with his head down. Näslund, the league's leading scorer at the time, suffered a minor concussion and a bonechip in his elbow as a result of the hit, knocking him out of the lineup for three games. Referee Dan Marouelli did not call a penalty, which drew the ire of many Canucks, but the league ruled that Marouelli was correct by judging the hit legal, bearing no punishment.

Canucks head coach Marc Crawford publicly criticized the no-infraction call, claiming that Marouelli and his partner, Rob Martell, needed to show "respect" for the league's leading scorer. Vancouver general manager Brian Burke, the league's former chief disciplinarian, called the play "a headhunting hit." Several Canucks players also issued a "bounty" on Moore's head," implying that they intended to retaliate.

During another Vancouver-Colorado game three weeks after the Naslund hit, on March 8, 2004, Canucks forward Matt Cooke fought Moore in the first period. Then, with Colorado leading 8-2 late in the third period, Bertuzzi began following Moore down the ice, attempting to provoke a fistfight. When Moore ignored him, Bertuzzi, behind Moore, grabbed the Colorado player's jersey and punched him in the back of the head. Bertuzzi, as well as several other players from both teams, then landed atop Moore as he fell to the ice.

After lying on the ice for several minutes, Moore was removed on a stretcher. He suffered three fractured vertebrae in his neck, a grade three concussion, vertebral ligament damage, stretching of the brachial plexus nerves, and facial cuts. To date, Moore has not appeared in another professional hockey game.

Aftermath

On March 10, 2004, Bertuzzi scheduled a press conference where he wept and apologized to Moore and his family, as well as to Burke, Canucks owner John McCaw, Jr., the Canucks organization, his teammates, and the fans.

Bertuzzi was suspended indefinitely by the NHL, and lost approximately $500,000 in cash. The Vancouver Canucks were also fined $250,000, on March 11, 2004, for "...failure to prevent the atmosphere that may have led to [the incident]."

Although Bertuzzi had played in a charity game in Vancouver that was arranged during the 2004–05 NHL lockout, the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) had extended his suspension to cover their jurisdiction. This meant that Bertuzzi could not play hockey in Europe during the lockout. It was felt that in the European leagues, Bertuzzi would have drawn too much negative publicity.

On June 24, 2004, the criminal justice branch of the British Columbiamarker Ministry of the Attorney General announced that Bertuzzi was formally charged with assault causing bodily harm. On December 22, 2004, Bertuzzi pleaded guilty to the assault charge after arranging a plea bargain with prosecutors. He was given a conditional discharge and one year's probation. (Under Canadian law, Bertuzzi's successful completion of the probation means he has no criminal record from the incident.)

On February 17, 2005, Bertuzzi was named in a lawsuit filed by Moore, who remains totally inactive since the injury. Also named were Brad May (who was quoted as saying that there would "definitely be a price on Moore's head" after the game), Brian Burke and the Canucks team. The lawsuit was thrown out in October 2005, as the Colorado judge felt that British Columbia was a better venue for the suit. Moore plans to appeal the lawsuit.

On August 8, 2005, the NHL announced that Bertuzzi would be allowed to play again at the start of the 2005–06 NHL season. In the league's decision, they cited many reasons for ending the suspension, such as:
  • Bertuzzi serving a suspension of 20 games, which at the time tied for 4th longest in NHL history (13 regular season games, 7 playoff games),
  • Bertuzzi's repeated attempts to apologize to Moore personally,
  • Bertuzzi's forfeited salary ($501,926.39),
  • lost endorsements (approximately $350,000.00, both figures in United States dollars),
  • significant uncertainty, anxiety, stress and emotional pain caused to Bertuzzi's family,
  • the commissioner's belief that Bertuzzi was genuinely remorseful and apologetic for his actions.


On August 15, 2005, Bertuzzi broke his 17-month-long silence by once again admitting to his mistake and expressing a desire to move on with his life. "I'm sure just like Steve Moore and his family, it's been difficult for both parties. I know I wish that day never happened. It's been some tough times, but I've got good family and good friends and good peers in the league that have helped me get over the hump and move forward and come through it."

On November 8, 2005, Moore's Toronto-based lawyer, Tim Danson, said that Moore was skating and doing regular workouts, but continued to suffer concussion-related symptoms.

On February 16, 2006, Moore filed a civil suit in the province of Ontariomarker against Bertuzzi, the Canucks, and the parent company of the Canucks, Orca Bay Sports and Entertainment, seeking $15 million in pecuniary damages for loss of income, $1 million for aggravated damages, and $2 million for punitive damages. Moore's parents, who were watching their son on television when the attack happened, are also suing, seeking $1.5 million for "for negligent infliction of nervous shock and mental distress."(all figures in Canadian dollars). Moore's lawyer filed the suit one day before its two-year limitation expired, denying there was any connection between the timing and the 2006 Winter Olympics.

As of December 15, 2006, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman is attempting to get Bertuzzi and Moore to agree on an out-of-court settlement in the CAD$19.5 million lawsuit filed by Moore. Bertuzzi offered $350,000 to settle the case, an amount which was called "an insult" by Moore's lawyer.

On March 28, 2008, Bertuzzi filed a lawsuit against Crawford, alleging that he was contractually obliged to obey Crawford and that therefore Crawford shares responsibility for the injury to Moore. In response, Crawford later stated that Bertuzzi acted in "direct disobedience" to orders from the bench to get off the ice before attacking Moore.

Personal

Bertuzzi has a wife, Julie, a son named Tag and a daughter named Jaden.

Awards and achievements



Records

  • Vancouver Canucks team record; longest point-scoring streak - 15 games (7 goals, 12 assists; January 3–February 4, 2003; tied with Petr Nedvěd; November 19–December 27, 1992)


Career statistics

    Regular season   Playoffs
Season Team League GP G A Pts PIM GP G A Pts PIM
1990–91 Sudbury Wolf Cubs OMHA 42 7 14 21 145 28 19 26 45 77
1990–91 Sudbury NOJHA 48 25 46 71 247
1991–92 Guelph Storm OHL 42 7 14 21 145
1992–93 Guelph Storm OHL 60 27 31 58 168 5 2 2 4 6
1993–94 Guelph Storm OHL 61 28 54 82 165 9 2 6 8 30
1994–95 Guelph Storm OHL 62 54 65 119 58 14 15 18 33 41
1995–96 New York Islanders NHL 76 18 21 39 83
1996–97 Utah Grizzlies IHL 13 5 5 10 16
1996–97 New York Islanders NHL 64 10 13 23 68
1997–98 New York Islanders NHL 52 7 11 18 58
1997–98 Vancouver Canucks NHL 22 6 9 15 63
1998–99 Vancouver Canucks NHL 32 8 8 16 44
1999–00 Vancouver Canucks NHL 80 25 25 50 126
2000–01 Vancouver Canucks NHL 79 25 30 55 93 4 2 2 4 8
2001–02 Vancouver Canucks NHL 72 36 49 85 110 6 2 2 4 14
2002–03 Vancouver Canucks NHL 82 46 51 97 144 14 2 4 6 60
2003–04 Vancouver Canucks NHL 69 17 43 60 122
2004–05 DNP — Lockout
2005–06 Vancouver Canucks NHL 82 25 46 71 120
2006–07 Florida Panthers NHL 7 1 6 7 13
2006–07 Detroit Red Wings NHL 8 2 2 4 6 16 3 4 7 15
2007–08 Anaheim Ducks NHL 68 14 26 40 97 6 0 2 2 14
2008–09 Calgary Flames NHL 66 15 29 44 74 6 1 1 2 8
NHL totals 859 255 369 621 1191 52 10 15 25 119
OHL totals 229 116 165 281 532 28 19 26 45 77


International statistics

Year Team Comp   GP G A Pts PIM
1998 Canada WC 6 1 2 3 16
2000 Canada WC 9 5 4 9 47
2006 Canada Oly 6 0 3 3 6
Senior int'l totals 21 6 9 15 69


Transactions



Notes and references

  1. Kramer, Irwin Vigilantes on Ice Legal Television Network. March 15, 2004.
  2. Pittsburgh Penguins, Sidney Crosby, National Hockey League - CBSSports.com


External links




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