The word “enforcer” or “hockey goon” does not appear in the 2007–2008 National Hockey League (NHL) rulebook. However, every player and coach knows the meaning of those words. Hockey has always had its share of enforcers or “goons” that have protected star players. Steve Moore, former Harvard captain, and his parents have sued NHL tough-man Todd Bertuzzi, the Vancouver Canucks, and the partnership that owned the Canucks for an on-ice incident that occurred between Moore and Bertuzzi on March 8, 2004. Dedicated hockey fans have followed the lawsuit, but with the “incident” now over four years old many have forgotten about the vicious nature of the hit Bertuzzi rendered on Moore. Much of the discussion circulating around the Moore lawsuit has been that of hockey’s unwritten rule dealing with enforcers and hockey’s code of retaliation. Steve Moore’s lawsuit challenges hockey’s unwritten rules dealing with fighting and retaliation. Moore’s civil lawsuit has been frowned upon by some players. The outcome of the lawsuit could set the boundaries for future play in the NHL. Consider a sport where physically fit athletes are moving on skates at more than 20 miles an hour, wielding large wooden or metal sticks, and all vying for a 1 inch frozen piece of vulcanized rubber that has the ability to travel at more than 100 miles per hour. In addition, all of this activity takes place on a rock hard sheet of ice, 200 by 85 feet, with boundaries made of boards and glass. Whoever controls the puck also controls his future. A player could gain worldwide notoriety, obtain a lucrative contract, and eventually be presented with Lord Stanley’s Cup. Simply put, a lot is at stake.
Patrick K. Thornton,
Rewriting Hockey's Unwritten Rules: Moore v. Bertuzzi,
Me. L. Rev.
Available at: https://digitalcommons.mainelaw.maine.edu/mlr/vol61/iss1/8