According to a reports from The Hockey News and Globe and Mail, a lawsuit which is seeking in excess of $40 million from Detroit’s Todd Bertuzzi has been slated by Ontario’s Superior Court of Justice to begin hearings on September 24, 2012 or October 22, 2012 (Depending on Bertuzzi’s current NHL status.)
Todd Bertuzzi is also currently suing his former head coach, Marc Crawford, claiming that he was encouraged by Crawford to attack Moore in an ill-sighted attempt to avenge a previous hit on Markus Naslund. Crawford has since denied that he sent Bertuzzi on the ice with the intention of getting Moore back.
While both Crawford and the Canucks are covered (up to $10 million plus $1 million in legal fees) by team insurance, Bertuzzi would personally be liable for any damages awarded to Moore due to the fact that he did end up pleading guilty to assault following the incident.
I am not going to pretend I am a lawyer and attempt to decipher all of the legal mumbo-jumbo, for more info on the ins and outs of the lawsuit I strongly encourage you to check out the previously mentioned articles. Instead, I am going to look at it from the point of view of a regular guy.
I know for a fact that, even seven plus years later, there are still a number of people who adamantly believe that Bertuzzi should not even be allowed to play in the NHL anymore. Personally, I disagree with that. Obviously the entire incident involving Bertuzzi was ugly, but he pleaded guilty to his charges and accepted his punishment (One year of probation and 80 days of community service.)
My initial reaction when I read about the lawsuit was a bit of shock over the $40 million. From what I understand the number is an estimated $38 million in what Moore would have earned if he had continued his NHL career plus more based on the claim that brain damage he suffered from the incident left him unable to pursue his post-hockey finance career. While $40 million sounds like a lot and some people may have the thought of live and let live, I don’t think you can really fault the guy for trying to get what he feels he deserves. Whether or not he actually does deserve it is a matter to be decided by the courts.
After sifting through all of the numbers and claims, I, as a Wings fan, am most concerned with how this affects Bertuzzi mentally heading into the season after more than seven years of dealing with this. You have to believe that Bertuzzi knew this was coming at some point but it still can’t feel very good knowing you are at any risk of being on the hook for $40 million. The way I see it for Big Bert this season is that it can really have one of two probable outcomes on his play. The first possibility is that Bertuzzi is just relieved to finally have an end in sight and an official date set so he can stop worrying about when it may happen and in turn allow him to just focus all of his energy on playing. The second possibility is that, as I am sure it would be for many people, the idea of a $40 million lawsuit against you wreaks havoc on his state of mind and his level of play goes down.
If I had to guess, based on how Bertuzzi has handled himself on the ice since the incident, I wouldn’t expect any significant drop in his level of play this season. This issue has to have been weighing on his mind since the first time he stepped back onto NHL ice following the event, just the fact that he has been able to continue to play at the level that he has is a testament to the mental toughness of Todd Bertuzzi and I would be willing to wager that this season will be no different.