DENVER - Wearing a brace from his chin to his chest, Steve Moore walked into a news conference Monday and said he doesn't remember the hit that knocked him out for the season - and might have ended his NHL career.
The Avalanche forward still has a red welt under his right eye, but smiled broadly while speaking to the media for the first time since Vancouver's Todd Bertuzzi sucker-punched him during a game on March 8.
"I feel very fortunate to be able to be here, to be able to walk in here," Moore, 25, said before Colorado played Los Angeles. "I don't know whether I'll be able to play again, but I remain optimistic. I'm more fortunate just to be alive and to take one day at a time."
Moore suffered two broken vertebrae, a concussion and cuts on his face when Bertuzzi punched him from behind and drove his head into the ice. The hit was believed to be retaliation for a check by Moore in February that knocked Canucks star Markus Naslund out for three games.
Bertuzzi was suspended for the rest of the season and playoffs, and Vancouver police are looking into assault charges against him.
Moore has not spoken to Bertuzzi and avoided questions about his punishment, but did say the hit was over the line.
Moore also was amazed by the support he has gotten.
"I've even received a bouquet of flowers from Kuwait," he said. "So it's been pretty amazing and it's been very uplifting for me."
DEVILS: General manager Lou Lamoriello said defenseman Scott Stevens, who has missed the past 40 games with a concussion, was not fully recovered and would not join the team until he was. ... Forward Zach Parise, the team's first-round pick in last year's draft, signed. ... Forward Grant Marshall will miss at least the first round of the playoffs with a broken right hand.
THRASHERS: League owners unanimously approved the sale of the team, clearing the way for Time Warner to complete its sale of Atlanta's pro basketball and hockey teams to a group of nine investors headed by Boston businessman Steve Belkin.
WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS: Mike Babcock of the Mighty Ducks and Tom Renney of the Rangers will be assistants for Canada at the event April 24-May 9.Monday's games
RED WINGS 5, WILD 3: Brendan Shanahan had a goal and an assist, helping host Detroit reduce its magic number to one point over San Jose to clinch the top seed in the West. The Red Wings also lead the Lightning by one point for the best record in the league.
MAPLE LEAFS 4, THRASHERS 2: Gary Roberts and Nik Antropov scored in the third for host Toronto, which moved into a tie for first in the Northeast Division. The Maple Leafs are tied with Boston with 99 points. Toronto played without Owen Nolan, who will miss at least three weeks because of a knee injury sustained Saturday against Ottawa.
SABRES 6, BLUE JACKETS 0: Dmitri Kalinin scored twice and added an assist for host Buffalo, which moved within three points of the Islanders in the race for the eighth and final playoff spot in the East. Both teams have three games left and the Islanders' magic number for clinching is four points.
PANTHERS 3, HURRICANES 1: Kristian Huselius and Matt Cullen had power-play goals for host Florida, which snapped its season-high five-game losing streak.
AVALANCHE 2, KINGS 1: Teemu Selanne scored his first goal in 20 games with 5:09 remaining, helping host Colorado end an 0-5-1 winless streak, its longest in two years.