In the words of NHL commissioner Gary Bettman:
"It is my belief that Mr. Bertuzzi has paid a very significant price for his conduct on March 8, 2004, and that he should be reinstated immediately so that he is eligible to play as of the commencement of the 2005-06 NHL season."
Quickly overshadowing the news that Wayne Gretzky was stepping behind the bench in Phoenix (Coyotes players can't wait to play under the Great One - registration required), the NHL reinstated Vancouver winger Todd Bertuzzi, suspended from the league for some 17 months, which ammounted to 20 games (including seven playoff) and $501,926 in wages for attacking Colorado's Steve Moore.
Bertuzzi is due to make more than $5.27 million this season with the Canucks and is expected to be ready to hit the ice for Team Canada's Olympic training camp next week. The Canucks are eager to unite Bertuzzi with Marcus Naslund and Brendan Morrison. Moore, without an NHL contract, wouldn't comment.
Do you think Bertuzzi paid his debt? Should he be back in the NHL come October? What if Bertuzzi scores the winning goal in the gold medal game at the next Olympics? Send us your opinion.
Meanwhile, the free agent market has slowed (a little), and the Leafs look stronger up the middle, as long as Jason Allison's neck holds up. And speaking of Team Canada gamers, would Anson Carter look good wearing the other Maple Leaf?
Toronto radio station Fan 590 is reporting this morning that Eric Lindros and the Leafs have agreed to a one-year contract, but are still haggling over terms. Let's see, Sundin at 6-foot-5, Allison is 6-3, Lindros 6-5 ... a bit o' size up the middle. A deal with Lindros could be struck today. Stay tuned.
Geezer report: According to his agent, Alexander Mogilny wants to play in Toronto (reg. req'd) and would take quite the pay cut to come back. But the Leafs apparently think the 36-year-old winger is too old.
The NHL's return to life looks to be getting a $100 million boost with a two-year cable TV deal (reg. req'd).