Bertuzzi's return to Vancouver stirs memories good and bad
VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP) - Todd Bertuzzi is back at the scene of the crime - literally - for the first time as an opponent.
Bertuzzi returned to Vancouver as a member of the Anaheim Ducks for Tuesday night's game against the Canucks, his first visit since his old team traded the beleaguered winger to Florida two summers ago as part of a five-player package that brought back star goaltender Roberto Luongo.
Though there were years of good memories in Vancouver for Bertuzzi to recount, there were also the obvious questions about his infamous on-ice attack on Colorado's Steve Moore on March 8, 2004.
The attack left Moore with broken bones in his neck and a concussion that still prevents him from playing hockey. Bertuzzi was later charged with assault causing bodily harm. He pleaded guilty and was given a conditional discharge and one year's probation.
"That's something I haven't spoken about or can't talk about right now," said Bertuzzi, who still faces a $19.5-million lawsuit from Moore and his parents in Ontario. "I can t speak about that at all.
"I spent eight unbelievable years here, I got nothing but great memories here and that's one thing no one can ever take away from me."
Bertuzzi actually played another season in Vancouver, recording 25 goals, 71 points and a minus-17 rating as the Canucks missed the playoffs in 2005-06. He was traded to Florida that summer.
Following the trade to Florida, Bertuzzi was subsequently dealt to Detroit. This past July he signed a two-year, $8 million contract with the Ducks as an unrestricted free agent, where he was reunited with former Canucks general manager Brian Burke.
The incident that will forever link Bertuzzi to Vancouver is also part of Burke's past, as are the more notable moments.
"I know Todd Bertuzzi is a character person who thought he was going to the aid of a teammate," Burke said. "... I think everyone wishes they can turn the clock back, but they can't. I believe people deserve a second chance."
Both Bertuzzi and Burke expect a warm welcome back for the former winger, who was a big part in the team's turnaround from empty seats when he arrived in a trade from the New York Islanders, to constant sellouts when he was traded.
Bertuzzi had 36 goals and 85 points in just 72 games - he missed 10 in a suspension for coming off the bench and joining a fight against Colorado - in 2001-02. He recorded a career-best 46 goals and 97 points the following season, but had just 60 points in 69 games, before the Moore attack ended his 2003-04 season with 13 games left.
"Todd can't talk about it and I'm not really supposed to either," Burke said of the Moore incident. "At some point it's going to be resolved and I think that will be a good day for hockey in general, not just for Todd and not just for the teams involved. I think it will be a good day for all of you folks to focus on something else and all us of to focus on hockey."