DENVER ó The Pepsi Center will be loud tonight.
It will be rowdy for the Colorado Avalanche, and it will be hateful for Todd Bertuzzi.
The Vancouver forward makes his first appearance in Denver since his vicious attack on former Av Steve Moore more than 18 months ago, and the fans arenít going to be nice.
They shouldnít be. They should boo and hiss and scream his name in anger because right now, thatís the only way this issue is being addressed.
The Avs and Canucks are avoiding this subject like itís the bird flu. They talk around questions about Bertuzzi and Moore, and they give short, dismissive answers when the issue comes up.
The theme is: Itís time to move past this. But tell that to Moore. He still canít play, and he probably wonít play in the NHL ever again.
To these guys, out of sight is out of mind.
Bertuzzi is weary and doesnít want to talk about what he did anymore. He gave his tearful apology soon after breaking Mooreís neck, and he served his time. In his eyes, his debt is paid.
Itís not, and it will never be.
You can understand Bertuzzi wanting to steer clear of this subject, but not the Avs. This was their teammate ó at least for some of them ó but they donít want to talk about it.
How do you think Moore feels? Granted, thereís probably a gag order on the players, and none of them want to jeopardize their future with the team, but itís doubtful Joe Sakic would be thrown on the heap for uttering these simple lines:
ďBertuzzi was wrong, he was vicious and weíll never forget it. He should have been suspended longer, but the NHL didnít see it the same way. Itís in the past, but itís not forgotten.Ē
That wonít happen. Instead, the Avs go through the motions, talk about needing more jump in their game, the need to play smarter in their end and the need to get valuable points. They cringe when someone wants to talk about Bertuzzi and Moore because it is, as Brad May told one of my colleagues, ďflogging a dead horse.Ē
Granted, we in the media donít always ask the most thoughtful questions on this subject. In the hope that a player will give us a quick quote, we reduced our interviews to overblown generalizations, so we are culpable.
Instead of asking what the fans will do, we should be asking what the players feel about this subject. Not what they think, what they feel. We might get a pat answer, but it might be an honest one, too.
Itís a little unfair to indict the players on this when the organization sets the tone. Signing May this summer spoke volumes about their shortsighted thought process, and it probably gave the players the idea that the Moore-Bertuzzi issue was put to bed.
Well, it wasnít. Thatís why there were so many media members at Wednesdayís practice, and thatís why the fans will get loud.
This issue isnít over, and it will never be. Just ask Steve Moore.
Michael Kelly can be reached at 303-776-2244, Ext. 321, or by e-mail at email@example.com.