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Does the NHL have post-concussion syndrome?
Bertuzzi reinstatement stinks
8/15/05 - by Mike Lee

I decided to take a break from talking about all the free agency madness that has been filling out any and all hockey media outlets as of late. Thought I'd focus on something a little more controversial and pick on Todd Bertuzzi for a day. After the Pittsburgh Penguins won the NHL draft lottery three weeks ago, Bertuzzi followed up with a lottery victory of his own. The reinstatement lottery that is. Only question is which lottery was more fixed by the NHL?

Bertuzzi, as you may recall, almost ended the life of Colorado Avalanche forward Steve Moore during the 2003-04 season. NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and his band of disciplinarians dropped what was perceived as a hammer on Bertuzzi after they suspended him for the final 13 games of the 2003-04 season and all of the playoffs that year.

The league was granted a reprieve in deciding on Bertuzzi's fate because of the lockout that cancelled the 2004-05 season, but Bettman elected to grant the Canucks star a get out of jail free card by clearing Bertuzzi for the upcoming season.

``It's difficult to see that he's able to play again when I still have a long way to go, and not just in hockey, but with my health,'' Moore said in Thursday's Denver Post.

The fog cleared long enough for Moore to hit that one on the head.

I'm not one of those anti-blood sport imbeciles who is screaming for wholesale bans on fighting in the game, or anything else that takes the intensity away from this fabulous game. I am in favor of throwing the book at ignorant and selfish behavior that could have ended a man's life. Forget the fact that Moore may never play hockey again. Think about the quality of life Moore could have been faced with had his spinal cord been more severely damaged.

Think about the life that Moore may have forfeited because Bertuzzi couldn't control the savage evil in his nature.

Yes, this is beyond exacting revenge during a game, or paying Moore back for earlier transgressions. This goes way beyond that.

And now three weeks after his clean collective bargaining agreement "win", Bettmen attempts to help one of his employers by reinstating one of the biggest local draws in town, regardless of the fact that it probably cost another player their career.

Bettmen has been spouting off for the last four weeks about how the NHL needs to repay the fans and earn back their trust. This could have been an easy way to help foster some of the trust back. Extending Bertuzzi's suspension well into this season would have sent a clear message.

Bettmen's choice only shows that there is either an eagerness to get Vancouver fans back into GM place, or the league isn't prepared to go to the mat again against the player's association in order to resolve this dispute.

It was also an opportunity for the Player's Association to start self policing themselves. They should have exacted support for the suspension. But it's been made very clear that the players only have their own interests in mind. Allowing a prolonged unstructured suspension to drag on means that it could be imposed on any one of them someday, and that means not getting paid.

The NHL and NHLPA need to join the rest of society and buck up to the rules that the real world lives by.

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