In what was sure to be one of the most important pieces of litigation to hit the National Hockey League in some time, former Colorado Avalanche forward Steve Moore has settled his lawsuit stemming from a 2004 incident in a game against the Vancouver Canucks and involving their former player Todd Bertuzzi out of court according to multiple reports.
The Moore-Bertuzzi litigation has been settled out of court.— Michael Grange (@michaelgrange) August 19, 2014
Bertuzzi's lawyer Geoff Adair confirmed to the Canadian Press that the suit has been settled, but the terms of the settlement are confidential.
The court date was set for Sept. 8, more than 10 years after Bertuzzi punched Moore from behind in a game and drove him into the ice in a game between the Avalanche and Canucks. The injuries Moore sustained ended his hockey career and he claims they have impacted his quality of life and ability to seek other employment. The video can be difficult to watch.
In July, Moore raised his demands for damages from $38 million to $68 million. Moore was seeking lost earnings from the career he could have had in the NHL if he wasn't injured, among other claims. The defense certainly would have argued for less.
Here's more from the Toronto Star's report when Moore increased his demands for damages:
Retribution is a key theme in Moore's suit. During a game before he was attacked by Bertuzzi, Moore delivered a questionable hit on then-Canucks captain Markus Naslund. Bertuzzi called Moore a punk and said he was pleased the teams still had two games remaining during that season.
The trial is expected to involve dozens of witnesses and last as long as 18 weeks. NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and deputy commissioner Bill Daly both are expected to testify, as is former Canucks owner John McCaw, if no settlement can be reached beforehand.
Had this gone to trial, the entire NHL, its culture, its executives and business practices all could have been on trial. It was something that Moore seemed more than willing to take on after waiting 10 years to see this civil trial happen. The out of court settlement comes as a bit of a surprise as a result.
For the NHL, Bertuzzi and the Canucks, a trial could have had significant negative impact and that impact could have had far-reaching consequences.
Moore, who is the older brother of New York Rangers forward Dominic Moore, appeared in 69 games and was playing in the first full-time season of his NHL career before he was injured in the attack in March of 2004. He had 12 points in those 69 games, all with the Colorado Avalanche.
Bertuzzi pleaded guilty to assault charges stemming from the incident, thus avoiding jail time with the plea agreement. He was placed on probation and was ordered to perform 80 hours of community service. He missed a total of 17 months of action as Bertuzzi was suspended for the rest of the 2003-04 season and the 2004-05 season was lost to a lockout. Bertuzzi has played in the nine seasons since, most recently with the Detroit Red Wings last season and is now an unrestricted free agent. He has played in 1,159 NHL games.
This may somewhat close the book on one of the darkest chapters in NHL history. The league went on, largely unchanged by the incident, while Moore remains impacted by his injuries and a lost career. Perhaps the settlement will help heal some old wounds, but the rest of us will be left to wonder if anything was really learned from that awful incident of a decade ago.