On Thursday of this week, Vancouver Canucks
forward Todd Bertuzzi was charged by Crown authorities in Vancouver with the serious charge of assault causing bodily harm. The charge relates to an incident from earlier
this year where Bertuzzi attacked Colorado Avalanche forward Steve Moore during a game in Vancouver and severely injured the Avalanche forward. Bertuzzi faces a court hearing on July 9 that will decide which court has jurisdication on this case and remains suspended by the National Hockey League.
This move should not have come as much of a surprise considering that the same Crown charged then Boston Bruins defenseman Marty McSorley in 2000 for an attack on Canucks forward Donald Brashear. In that case, McSorley was found guilty of assault with a weapon and sentenced to 18 months of a suspended sentence. He did not spend any time in jail but the veteran defenseman who was already at the end of his career did not play another game in the NHL.
The Crown prosecutor basically had to charge Bertuzzi or face charges of hometown favouritism. The thing with Bertuzzi though is that he is far from the end of his hockey career. He is actually at the cusp of his career, coming off some very good seasons, and having established himself as one of the premier players in hockey. The maximum sentence that can be meted out for this offense ranges from 18 months to over 10 years, depending on the jurisdiction that tries this case.
The NHL did what it could in suspending Bertuzzi, but the law is the law. They couldn't have gotten way with charging McSorley but letting Bert off the hook - hence the charge. One additional thing though is that this might lead to some future civil action from the Moores in the form of a lawsuit.
And that could get ugly.
Todd Bertuzzi's assault case was adjourned for two weeks after a short hearing on Friday. Prosecutor Garth Loeppky said he hopes to get an arraignment date when the case resumes July 22. Bertuzzi could face upto 18 months in jail and is case will be heard by a judge.