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Moore recovers; Bertuzzi is back

Hockey players are, by the nature of their business, tough guys. They have to be, if they're going to make it in a tough sport.

Don't expect them to offer sympathy after sending a player flying into the boards. And they're not going to give more than a passing glance to someone dripping blood on the ice after a fight.

Anyone not missing a few teeth or carrying around a few scars hasn't played for very long.

That's the culture of the National Hockey League.

And that's why Todd Bertuzzi is back playing hockey, while Steve Moore wonders if he will ever be the same again.

Bertuzzi was playing for Vancouver when he came up on Moore from behind in a game against Colorado, sucker punched him and slammed him face first into the ice. Moore's neck was broken, but he was lucky -- he could have been paralyzed, or even killed.

It happened 17 months ago, but the sight of Moore lying unconscious in a pool of his own blood is still enough to sicken.

It's no longer enough, though, to keep Bertuzzi out of the game. NHL commissioner Gary Bettman decided last week that Bertuzzi could return even as Moore still tries to recover.

But if the NHL was serious about remaking itself after losing a season, Bertuzzi wouldn't be returning to the ice until Moore was well enough to go first.

What's even worse, Bertuzzi didn't have to wait until NHL training camps open to play. No sooner had Bettman freed him than Wayne Gretzky was on the phone offering him a spot at the Canadian Olympic team workouts.

''Todd feels worse about what happened than anybody," Gretzky said. ''He has been punished and served his time."

Apparently, Canadian hockey fanatics couldn't agree more.

In Vancouver on Monday, Bertuzzi was greeted with loud cheers by the 11,000 or so fans who came to watch the orientation camp. Later, he received a standing ovation and responded by waving a glove in the air.

Even more disconcerting was the reaction of some of Moore's former teammates on the Colorado Avalanche who are with Team Canada.

It makes sense to think they would back up their injured teammate. But national ties seem to run deeper than team loyalties.

''Todd has served his suspension and it was lengthy," Colorado captain Joe Sakic said. ''He served that and you move on. The most important thing is Steve Moore is doing better."

Bertuzzi says he has tried to apologize to Moore personally, and he did tearfully apologize for his actions after the incident. But he made it clear Monday that he's ready to move on.

''If we're going to go through life not giving anyone second chances, what kind of life are we going to have?" Bertuzzi said. ''People make mistakes in life. Unfortunately, I was under the microscope and on TV when my mistake happened."

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