Bertuzzday: Dale Hunter’s disgrace

“Everything changed by one mean-spirited little prick. When Pierre Turgeon got up, he left some piece of himself on the Nassau pond. From the minute he returned, he was hesitant; he was a perimeter guy; he was a guy who was not activating the energy level of his team the way he had been. He didn’t have that drive to the front of the net.” -Frank Brown quote found on Hockey Legends

On the heels of arguably the most notorious hit in NHL history, it only seems natural to follow it up with a hit that quite possibly is more egregious.

Dale Hunter‘s hit didn’t break Pierre Turgeon‘s neck. Cannot say whether or not that moment of shocking violence looped on judgmental news reels and received national attention – my attention at that time was devoted either to Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles or professional wrestling.

But my guess is that it was infamous mainly in the hockey community, as then-new commish Gary Bettman suspended Hunter a then-record 21 games for that sickeningly late hit.

Much like Todd Bertuzzi and Steve Moore, this hit will inexorably bond Turgeon and Hunter forever. Thankfully, Turgeon still ended up having an excellent career: he retired more than ten years later (in 2007), broke 1,000 points and made a huge heap of cash.

It is interesting to read that Turgeon was a potential superstar before that fateful night. Without knowing about that moment of ghastly violence, Turgeon simply seemed to me to be a soft, enormously overpaid player who coasted on past glories. Who knew that he had every reason to flinch even when celebrating a goal.

Hunter, on the other hand, can only seek refuge in Capitals fans and the people who knew him behind the scenes. Bruce Schoenfeld of The Sporting News put it well:

“The Turgeon check is by far the most memorable feature of his career, the two minutes he would get on SportsCenter if he retired today.”

It certainly is a shame that people can reduce an entire career to one disturbing YouTube clip, but any pity reserved for Hunter is weighed by that gnawing bit of logic. There’s just no excuse for what he did.

Overall, my perspective on the situation is limited. For now here’s a few interesting quotes/links to what other bloggers said about it. It would certainly be great if there will be an update with some fresh opinions (so stay tuned) but for now a few pull quotes and links will have to do.

The hit was listed among the top 10 hockey violence lowlights on CBC Sports Online.

Another link to the incomparable Hockey Legends Web site: who knows how much respect that hit cost Hunter, but apparently it took $150,000 from his bank account.

More coming soon, hopefully …

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