(UPDATE: According to Sportsnet and the Canadian Press, the deal is done. Bertuzzi's lawyer said a settlement has been reached. More to come ...)
Logically, the chances that Steve Moore’s civil case against Todd Bertuzzi and the Vancouver Canucks ever made it to trial were slim. According to Bob McKenzie, they’re getting slimmer.
The TSN pundit reported late Monday night that Moore and Bertuzzi could be heading off their court showdown, as the sides are “deep into discussions aimed at arriving at a negotiated (out of court) settlement.”
This comes weeks before the scheduled Sept. 8 opening of the trial, as Moore is seeking damages after a sucker-punch from Bertuzzi in a March 8, 2004 game between the Canucks and the Colorado Avalanche ended Moore’s hockey career. Bertuzzi pled guilty to an assault charge, and his suspension ended up lasting 17 months from the NHL.
Moore upped to ante on the trial in June, increasing his financial claims in the case from $38 million to $68 million. Beyond liability, the arguments in the trial would have centered around Moore’s earning potential as an NHL player, and life in general as a Harvard grad, and how the incident derailed it.
For example, the Canucks’ lawyer already had an “expert” lined up to claim that Moore would have likely been “a hoist operator, a farm labourer or a cook in a fast-food restaurant” after his NHL career was over. You know, in case you wanted to get a sense of the tone and tenor of this trial.
And oh, what a court date it would have been! The NHL on trial, with Gary Bettman under oath talking about the dark side of the game during a time of unprecedented prosperity for the NHL. The “Code” on trial. Bertuzzi with a chance to take responsibility or send it up the chain of command to Mark Crawford. A hockey soap opera.
Alas, it seems neither side has the appetite for it. The question then becomes how much it’ll take to satisfy Steve Moore not to take this all the way; because Bertuzzi's lawyers refuse to believe Moore would have made $35 million in the NHL.