Mere hours after a reported settlement between former NHL player Steven Moore, the Vancouver Canucks and former Canucks forward Todd Bertuzzi was refuted by Moore's older brother Mark, the Canucks issued a statement saying an agreement has in fact been made.
"I got a text message from Steve last night and he's very concerned. He says there is no deal yet,” Mark Moore told TSN's Rick Westhead earlier Tuesday.
Shortly thereafter, the Canucks released the following statement (via CBC.ca):
“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.”
Geoff Adair, lawyer for Bertuzzi, who informed the media that the settlement had been agreed to on Tuesday, refuted Mark Moore's claims to Katie Strang of ESPN.com:
Adair stood by his original statement when told of Mark Moore's comments, telling ESPN.com on Wednesday that Steve Moore's brother is "not a party to this litigation" and maintaining that the deal was "confirmed in writing, unequivocal and enforceable in court."
Steve Moore's lawyer Ted Danson also refuted Mark Moore's claims, in a text message to TSN's Westhead:
Danson wrote in a text message that Mark Moore's comments were not accurate but he declined to elaborate.
"I am governed by very strict rules of professional conduct when it comes to settlement discussions," Danson wrote. "I am focusing only on my professional obligations."
Despite a confusing day in this situation, it appears somewhat safer to say that this all will be resolved officially in short order.
It was believed that after waiting so long to have his day in court since the incident in which he suffered three broken vertebrae and a severe concussion, he would see the lawsuit through to the trial, which was scheduled to commence on Sept. 8.
Moore was attacked by Bertuzzi from behind in a game between the Canucks and Colorado Avalanche in March of 2004. The Canucks were also included in the suit in part because Moore believed he was attacked in retribution for a hit he made on Vancouver's Markus Naslund in an earlier game.
Moore, a rookie at the time of Bertuzzi's attack, never played another game and claimed the injuries he suffered had impacted his quality of life. He was initially seeking $38 million in damages, but earlier this summer, he reportedly raised the demands to $68 million.
Bertuzzi was suspended for the remainder of the 2003-04 season after the hit in which he punched Moore and drove him into the ice head first. He returned to play in 2005-06 and has remained in the league ever since. Bertuzzi is currently an unrestricted free agent and is believed to be looking for a new team after spending the last five seasons with the Detroit Red Wings.
This incident has been a very dark chapter for the NHL and had it gone to trial, it could have gotten darker for all parties in question, including the NHL as a whole. One can only hope this settlement brought some semblance of justice for Moore and allows everyone else to move on.