The Vancouver Canucks confirmed Wednesday that a settlement has been reached in the court case involving NHL player Todd Bertuzzi and former NHLer Steve Moore over an on-ice attack that occurred in 2004.
“Canucks Sports & Entertainment confirms that a mutually agreeable and confidential settlement of the action commenced by Steve Moore against Todd Bertuzzi and the Vancouver Canucks has been reached," Canucks spokesman Ben Brown said in an email to the CBC. "The settlement is a result of mediation sessions with former Ontario Chief Justice Warren Winkler. No further details will be disclosed and the Canucks respectfully decline requests for comment.”
The statement from the Canucks came a day after Bertuzzi's lawyer Geoff Adair said a settlement had been reached with less than three weeks to go before the start of a civil procedure.
Moore's lawyer Tim Danson has not commented, and TSN reported earlier Wednesday that Mark Moore, Steve Moore's brother, said no agreement was in place.
“I got a text message from Steve last night and he’s very concerned,” TSN quoted Mark Moore as saying. “He says there is no deal yet and isn’t sure what to do about all the media speculation."
Moore was seeking $68 million in damages with a civil lawsuit, originally filed in 2006, scheduled to go to court on Sept. 8.
The settlement marks the end of a 10-year saga through the Canadian justice system and preempts what could have been an invasive foray into the courts for the NHL.
Commissioner Gary Bettman faced the prospect of testifying and being cross-examined under oath.
"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 Tuesday in an email to the CBC.
Danson may have grilled Bettman about what some see as an unspoken revenge culture in the NHL that may have led to the end of Moore's hockey career and changed his life beyond the game.
Moore, now 35, said in a 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," Moore 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 2½ years old, of playing in the NHL."
Hence, the $68-million suit: $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.
'Pay the price'
On March 8, 2004, Bertuzzi, then with the Canucks, jumped on Moore from behind 8:41 into the third period of a 9-2 loss to the Colorado Avalanche, driving Moore's 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 suffered three broken vertebrae and a concussion — and has not played hockey since.
Bertuzzi later claimed that Vancouver head coach Mark Crawford said in the dressing room during that game that Moore must "pay the price" for a hit he gave to Canucks captain Markus Naslund in a previous game.
Naslund missed three games as a result of that hit, but there was no penalty assessed because the referee considered it a legal check. Neither was there supplementary discipline upon further review by the NHL.
Canucks forward Brad May alleged there was a bounty on Moore's head, and Bertuzzi reportedly called Moore a piece of s--t.
Bertuzzi pleaded guilty to criminal assault causing bodily harm. He was sentenced in December 2004 to one year of probation and 80 hours of community service. He was also suspended by the NHL, and sat out 17 months in part due to the 2004-05 lockout.
The civil suit was filed in 2006.
In the eight years since, through the ongoing court proceedings leading up to trial, it has been reported that the NHL has refused to pay Moore's disability payment unless he drops his suit, that Bertuzzi filed and dropped a counter-claim against Crawford, that Bertuzzi and the Canucks had a secret deal to share costs if they lost, and that, early in the civil matter, there was a settlement discussion.