UPDATE: Rick Westhead of TSN reports the settlement deal between Steve Moore and Todd Bertuzzi may now be in jeopardy. He speculates that the roadblocks could involve elements of the confidentiality agreement, the schedule of payments or possibly clawbacks that could be invoked depending on when Moore is able to work. Westhead later tweeted an informed opinion of the possible value of the settlement: "Lawyer says his best guess at settlement terms-based on Moore's youth, Harvard degree, fact Bertuzzi was convicted, is $25M-$28M."
After 10 long years, Steve Moore apparently found the justice he was seeking.
Sportsnet's Michael Grange reported on Tuesday morning that a settlement has been reached in the lawsuit launched by Moore. The former Avalanche forward was seeking $68 million in damages from Bertuzzi and the Vancouver Canucks after his career was ended by the blindside assault that left him with three fractured vertebrae and a concussion in 2004.
No terms of the settlement have been made public, but according to the Toronto Star, a lawyer for Bertuzzi has confirmed that a deal was reached.
A civil trial to hear Moore's complaint was scheduled to begin on September 8.
Bertuzzi was suspended 17 months by the league in the wake of his sucker punch to the back of Moore's head. He later pleaded guilty to criminal assault causing bodily harm for the hit and was sentenced to one year probation and 80 hours of community service. As a result, his complicity in the early termination of Moore's career was never in question. The case was expected to center on Moore's lost earning potential as an NHL player, the diminished quality of his life as a result of his injuries, and how the lingering effects of his concussion would impact his future earnings as a graduate of Harvard.
Moore won't be the only beneficiary of the pre-trial settlement. The NHL will avoid involvement in an ugly court proceeding that not only would have brought the contentious issue of on-ice violence back to center stage in the public eye, but could also have put the league's knowledge and treatment protocol for concussions under legal scrutiny. The NHL currently faces at least four lawsuits related to the effects of concussions on former players.
Bertuzzi may also benefit, if not financially then perhaps professionally. A free agent, he was considered a low-priority target because of concerns over his legal issues. If this is, in fact, settled, he becomes a candidate for a training camp invite.