With the Canucks visiting the Avalanche tonight, Todd Bertuzzi will make his first Denver appearance since his attempt at scrambling the brains of Colorado’s Steve Moore. The Rocky Moutain News’ Terry Frei wonders what, if anything, has been learned since then.
We’re supposed to pretend that because the NHL reinstated Bertuzzi, his assault on Moore should be as if this is some driving violation, wiped off his record and out of our consciousness after the lapse of “x” number of months? That’s not about Bertuzzi.
That’s about a sport unwilling to hold itself up to ruthless self-examination, and not just to forget the lessons learned – but to never learn them at all. And it’s about fandom and media too often willing to allow the cacophony from the brainless (“If you disagree with me, you don’t understand the game!”) to drown out the thoughtful wing of hockey followers who believe their game can be better.
Think of how ridiculous it is that the Canucks took so long to pick their spot to avenge Naslund. And then it didn’t take much longer in the grand scheme for the Avalanche to all but forget a teammate in a pool of blood, with fractured neck vertebrae and a concussion that won’t go away? What should that say to Colorado’s Dan Hinote? Yes, in a sport of considerable player movement, the bonds are easily and instantly dissolvable, but you at least should pretend that perhaps career-ending injuries that happened to you in a Colorado uniform aren’t the same as being sent down to Hershey. Otherwise, the relentless attempts within the hockey culture to avoid the promotion of stars and to highlight a one-for-all team identity are completely hollow.
The Avalanche’s indifference is the most curious, of course, but it is part of a league-wide collective shrugging of shoulders. Even Hockey Canada, which airs wonderful television ads promoting “respect” in its sport, from the stands to the rink itself, sent mixed messages by taking roughly sixteen-thousandths of a second to invite Bertuzzi to its Olympic orientation camp after the NHL reinstated him.
It’s time to move on? OK, fair enough.
But to what? The “moving on” seems to have more to do with amnesia and rationalization than forgiveness and a feeling that Bertuzzi had been penalized enough.