After a four month investigation by the Vancouver Police Department, Todd Bertuzzi’s infamous attack March 8 on Colorado Avalanche Steve Moore has moved from the administrative office into the criminal courts. The Crown Attorney was handed the file for prosecution today and will begin the task of preparing for trial.
The charge of assault causing bodily harm was announced by the criminal justice branch of the Attorney General’s office early today. Bertuzzi was ordered to appear in court on July 9. The Attorney General’s office was starting to feel some heat over the length of time it was taking to decide whether to press ahead with criminal charges in the matter. Commentators were wondering if the delay would have been so long had it been a Canuck on the end of the assault, with today's announcement they can now turn their attention to the prosecution of the case.
Bertuzzi who was subsequently suspended indefinitely by the NHL for his pile driving like blow to the ice of Moore, did not have any statement to offer through his lawyer today. Nor did Moore's representatives. Moore who has yet to fully recover from his injuries, continues on with his therapy and continual trips to the doctor. In fact there is some doubt as to whether Moore will be able to continue on with his career.
The court action is not the first time that hockey has been called to the halls of justice in British Columbia. The 2000 attack on Donald Brashear by Marty McSorley also went before a judge; in that incident McSorley was eventually convicted of assault with a weapon and given a conditional 18 month sentence.
With the incident now moving forward into the courts, neither Canuck nor Avalanche spokespeople had much to add to the discussion. The league office issued a release stating that they felt they had rendered the proper form of discipline and wished that the Crown Attorney was not moving the file any further.
For the NHL the trial is just one more negative in what is shaping up to be a very uncomfortable summer for the league. While the league’s labour troubles are played out on the sports and business pages, it’s internal justice system will be played out on the front pages. This will not make for an enjoyable summer for all concerned.