Bertuzzi's lawyers said Tuesday that they had reached a settlement with Steve Moore. But Moore's brother says there's no deal.
On Tuesday, reports swarmed of a settlement between Steve Moore and Todd Bertuzzi -- one more than a decade in the making. A day later, it appears that there's no settlement after all. Not yet, at least.
It may have been a premature announcement and they still might be close on a deal, but it could be something more sinister: an attempt by Bertuzzi's camp to put pressure on Moore to reach a settlement sooner than later. That's what Moore's camp says is going on.
Moore's brother, Mark, told TSN that a settlement has yet to be made, which apparently leaves a very real chance that this case goes to court as originally scheduled. Mark also says that most of the pressure to come to a settlement before this goes to court comes from Bertuzzi's camp, as the former Red Wing is still a free agent with the 2014-15 NHL season rapidly approaching, via TSN:
"I got a text message from Steve last night and he's very concerned," Mark Moore told TSN. "He says there is no deal yet and isn't sure what to do about all the media speculation.
"Because of the injury he has trouble making decisions and so he doesn't know how to handle the media."
Bertuzzi has the fear that if a lengthy, ugly trial is hanging over his head, he won't be approached by a team for a contract. That's probably a fair concern on his part for a number of reasons: If he's going to be in court for several months right at the start of the 2014-15 season, why would a team sign him? It's also going to be nothing but bad press for the team that signs him, and for a 39-year-old forward who scored just 16 points last year, it's just not worth it. Not with a trial lingering.
So for Bertuzzi, a settlement makes a lot of sense. He wants to play hockey and a trial will derail that, perhaps for the rest of his career. But it was curious Monday that neither Moore's lawyers nor lawyers for the Vancouver Canucks, the team that employed Bertuzzi in 2004 when the incident with Moore happened, publicly acknowledged the settlement, even while Bertuzzi's lawyers and NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly did.
Of course, it's also in the league's interest that this goes away without an ugly trial. The last thing Gary Bettman and the league want is for video of the incident to replay on newscasts each night as a trial progresses and to have the NHL's entire history of on-ice player safety chronicled in open court.
On the other side of things, this could be Moore's side trying to do the same thing -- negotiate through the media, cast doubt on what was a close-to-agreed-upon deal, and earn more favorable teams in the eventual settlement.
So who really knows where this stands right now? One side says there's a settlement, one side says there's not. At the very least, we'll have a set answer on Sept. 8 when this either goes to court or remains behind closed doors.
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