Steve Moore’s roster picture.
On July 17 and 18, Mile High Hockey ran a two part interview with former Avalanche enforcer Scott Parker. (Part 1 and Part 2.)
For the most part, the interview felt insightful and entertaining; a former NHLer telling his story without inhibitions. Then things took an ugly turn when the Steve Moore/Todd Bertuzzi incident was mentioned. Parker’s exact quote on the situation:
“Yeah, yeah. He’s a good man. He, he is. I mean, he did get dealt some bad cards, and the thing is, [Steve Moore] always thought he was better than everybody else. He went to Harvard, you know what, blow me. College grad. I never went to college, but I can kick your ass. I’ll bring you right down to my IQ level if you want. I’ll hit you about four times in the skull, that’ll bring you right down. So, you know, Todd just, it was one of those games. Markus Naslund, the captain of the Canucks, gets taken out. It was a little sketchy what happened, but, hey. And then Moore, he fought, I think Cooke came after him and then he fought, which wasn’t really a fight. Todd wasn’t really thrilled with it, they were losing, I think it was 8 to 1 in their home barn.
You don’t do that in Canada. You talk about a sport that they love? You talk about Europeans and soccer? That’s hockey in Canada. So it’s the same way, if you don’t respond up there, they will eat you alive.
And Todd, he might have gone overboard, and what’s crazy is, even talking to him after the fact and talking to Moe, Morris and other boys that were in that, that happened, I watched that tape about a hundred times, and just the way Todd hit him, and he actually grabbed him to soften his blow when he went down, and what happened was when Moe landed on him, he actually hit the back of his neck and it actually popped up. You know, just the way Todd was holding him.
But you know, it wasn’t vicious, it was just, it was the heat of the moment. It was one of those things where you, you want to do something, but you don’t know if it’s gonna be big, if it’s gonna be small, or how it’s gonna pan out. But you wanna do something. And Todd, he might not have been right and it might have been a little overboard, but you know, he did something. I mean, at least he responded, at least he tried.
I know he’s marked now. People hate him, and it’s amazing what that can do to a man, too. It can make you feel this small, you know. And he’s not a bad man. He’s a great guy and a good family guy, and he just got marked. It’s one of those things…”
There are a lot of parts of this quote I’d like to dissect. First, Bertuzzi “dealt some bad cards”? He made a choice. He was angry that Moore had hit his captain a couple of games back, he was angry that his team was losing 8-2. While it is still murky whether or not coach Marc Crawford ordered him to injure Moore, Bertuzzi chose to go about earning revenge in the way he saw fit. He grabbed another player by the back of the jersey, and then punched the back of his as hard as he could. The decision behind that action came from his own brain. He was not dealt any cards, he ripped out the ones he wanted from the pack.
Scott Parker during warmups before a 2008 game. Photo: FrenchKheldar/Flickr.
Secondly, the comment “Todd, he might have gone overboard” irks me. Gee, really? A guy gets punched in the back of the head, and the initial hit combined with the resulting melee ends with him having three fractured vertebrae, a severe concussion, ending his career. That’s not a definite overboard? This coming from the man who, earlier in the interview, spoke about “the rules of fighting”, especially not throwing cheap shots, due to the respect factor. I’m not a professional hockey player, or a boxer, or really someone who gets into physical altercations at all, but I’m pretty sure Bertuzzi’s actions constitute as a cheap shot.
Parker’s next assertation is that Bertuzzi attempted to soften Moore’s fall. I hadn’t seen the hit since 2003 (and at the age of 9, it was the source of several nightmares, so I was reluctant to view it again), however, I wanted to see if Bertuzzi had truly tried to soften the fall. What I saw was a man who grabbed the collar of the other man at the last second. It was a bit like aiming a gun at someone, pulling the trigger, and then swinging wildly to change the trajectory after the bullet exited the chamber. So, perhaps he realized that he was misguided immediately after. That doesn’t excuse his behavior.
Scott Parker’s final point was that “at least [Bertuzzi] did something”. As in, “at least he defended his teammate.” Does it suck that Marcus Naslund was injured? Absolutely. Does is sting that Matt Cooke, going after Moore in the second game after the initial hit, couldn’t beat him soundly in a fight? Sure. Is it a natural reaction to get a little violent when you’re a professional and your team has been lit up for eight goals, especially when the team lighting the fire is a division rival? Yes. However “doing something” to show your frustration is a lot different than “doing something that ruins someone’s life”.
Hockey is a dangerous enough sport as it is; players willingly accept the inherent risks. Players also go in with a supposed understanding of the code of hockey. In a second, Bertuzzi broke that code. Does that make him, unequivocally a bad person? No. Life isn’t black and white, as much as we wish it to be so. When I boo Bertuzzi when he touches the puck at the Pepsi Center, I do so not because I hate him, but because my sense of right and wrong says that he should not be allowed to play hockey, at least in the NHL, when his reckless actions have prevented another player from playing. I boo because I feel that he should be reminded of what he took away from someone else. That’s my decision, and there are those who are more forgiving than I, who say that he regrets his actions. I cannot be completely sure if he truly regrets what he did, however, I hope that he does.
Lost in all of my dissection of Parker’s thoughts on Bertuzzi, are the thoughts he airs about Steve Moore.
“[Steve Moore] always thought he was better than everybody else. He went to Harvard, you know what, blow me. College grad. I never went to college, but I can kick your ass. I’ll bring you right down to my IQ level if you want. I’ll hit you about four times in the skull, that’ll bring you right down.”
This is the first time I have ever heard someone involved with the Avalanche claim that Moore “thought he was better than everyone else”. Adrian Dater, a longtime reporter for the Denver Post, met Moore and posted his thoughts on this comment here. I never met Moore, but in everything I have seen with or about him, he always seemed like a sweet guy. However, let’s just entertain the notion that Moore acted this way around his teammates. That behavior would have been annoying surely, but that doesn’t mean he deserved to be injured. And while Parker doesn’t put things quite that bluntly, that seems to be the implication. That he was just a mouthy kid who ultimately, had it coming to him.
Silly me, I thought hockey was a brotherhood. I thought that you protected and cared for your teammates. They might drive you absolutely nuts, but they’re yours. And here is Parker, who played a mere 12 games with Moore (his stint in San Jose started after Moore became a more regular NHL face) threatening to lower his IQ level, hit him a few times, in an attempt to show who is better. I’ve dealt with plenty of stuck up people (hello, high school), but the way you deal with them isn’t to injure them. You ignore them. You tell yourself they’re acting that way because deep down they’re insecure, to be the bigger person. It can be tough, but at the end of the day, if you react, you’re the one who ends up looking like the big jerk.
That’s how I feel about Parker right about now. He’s a jerk, who made disparaging comments about someone whom he should have supported. He’s always been a colorful character, a bit out there, but if this is how he feels? It is time for him to step aside. It is time for a new wave of thinking to take over, firmly setting the “old school” aside.