VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP) _ NHL All-Star Todd Bertuzzi was charged with assault Thursday for a sucker-punch during a game that left Colorado's Steve Moore with a broken neck.
The charges were announced by the criminal justice branch of the ministry of the attorney general after a four-month investigation. Bertuzzi, who plays for the Vancouver Canucks, was ordered to appear in court July 9.
The attack in March left Moore with three fractured vertebrae, facial cuts, post-concussion symptoms and amnesia. Neck-area nerves were also stretched. Doctors say it is unknown when, or if, Moore can play hockey again.
Bertuzzi, 29, hit Moore on March 8, coming up to him from behind and driving his head into the ice. Moore, 25, lay in a pool of blood before he was removed on a stretcher.
The NHL suspended Bertuzzi at least until next season.
The team was fined $250,000; the suspension cost Bertuzzi about $500,000 of his $6.8 million salary.
Bertuzzi also was left off Canada's roster for this fall's World Cup. His indefinite suspension will not be lifted until NHL commissioner Gary Bettman holds a hearing.
Bertuzzi's only public comment was a tearful apology two nights after the game.
``Steve, I just want to apologize for what happened out there,'' he said at the time. ``I had no intention of hurting you. I feel awful for what transpired.''
The punch was witnessed by more than 18,000 people at the arena and has been shown repeatedly in broadcasts across North America and Europe, prompting widespread criticism of hockey violence.
The incident marks the second time in recent years that police have looked into an on-ice hit at an NHL game in the city.
In 2000, Marty McSorley, then with the Boston Bruins, was charged for hitting then-Vancouver Canuck Donald Brashear with his stick. McSorley was convicted of assault but was spared a jail sentence. The NHL suspended him for a year, ending his 17-year career.