"I went to a fight, and a hockey game broke out"
Legalities of the Presence of Violence in the National Hockey League
Criminal Justice 103
March 24th, 2010
The National Hockey League (NHL) is arguably one of the most well-known, well-watched and popular sports leagues in the entire world. From the NHL down to the junior and amateur ranks, there is a strong sense among the hockey brotherhood that the honourable way to right a wrong on the ice is to physically attack one's foe. But the consequences can be lethal, as the Canadian court system has documented. This paper will examine the specific case of Todd Bertuzzi (2004) with respect to the civil liability and criminal responsibility involved, as well as the difficulties that arise for the Canadian justice system from disciplining a long-sanctioned form of sport violence for which very little precedent exists (Verdun-Jones, 2007). While criminal liability cannot be excluded, the position take in this paper is that the courts should defer to the disciplinary bodies of the sport leagues because the courts are not always in the best position to override the disciplinary authority of the NHL's head commissioners and govern the NHL in accordance with the law when at all possible.
In order to properly analyze this case from a legal level, we first need to examine the events preceding the attack in question. On February 16th, 2004, during a Vancouver Canucks versus Colorado Avalanche game, Avalanche center Steve Moore injured Canucks team captain Markus NÃÂ¤slund by checking him in the head area after play had stopped while NÃÂ¤slund was reaching for the puck ahead of himself with his head down. NÃÂ¤slund, the league's leading scorer at the time, suffered a minor concussion and a bone chip in his elbow as a result...