May looks for acceptance with Avalanche
DENVER ” When it comes to hockey villains in Denver, there are the Red Wings, there is Todd Bertuzzi and running a distant third, there is Brad May.
The Red Wings play in Detroit. Bertuzzi plays in Vancouver. And starting this season, May will play in Denver for the Colorado Avalanche.
May was the Vancouver player who said ” in jest, he claims ” that there should be a bounty put on Avalanche forward Steve Moore, an act of retribution for a nasty hit Moore had put on Markus Naslund in the 2004 season that knocked the Canucks captain out for three games.
A few days after May’s comment, Bertuzzi backed it up. He took a cheap shot at Moore, slamming him to the ice and breaking his neck.
Moore is still rehabilitating from the injury suffered 18 months ago.
Bertuzzi served a 13-game suspension and was recently reinstated by the NHL for the start of the upcoming season. May, meanwhile, was signed as a free agent by the Avalanche over the summer.
“I played for a lot of years in this league with integrity and honor,” said May, who has spent most of his 13 years as an enforcer for the Sabres, Canucks and Coyotes. “I’m proud to be who I am. I don’t feel bad. But I feel the whole situation is regrettable.”
May and Bertuzzi are among the defendants in the civil lawsuit Moore has filed in Denver seeking damages for the injury. Soon, May will wear an Avalanche uniform on the ice at the Pepsi Center and it is there that he’ll find out whether he will be embraced or reviled by fans.
Asked about all this Monday, the day the Avalanche reported for training camp, May stuck by his mantra ” he’s a man of honor and he wants to look toward the future.
“People have been booing me for 15 years,” he said. “I don’t know if it would be uncomfortable. It would be a different feeling, there’s no question about it, to get that at home. But people have different opinions. I only have one thing to say if it happens: I have integrity. I have honor.”
Many in Denver questioned whether the Avalanche had honor when they signed May. It was viewed as something of a slap in the face to Moore and to fans with whom the team and the NHL has been trying to reconnect after a long work stoppage.
It’s an opinion general manager Pierre Lacroix disagrees with.
“The slap in the face would have been if we signed the other guy,” Lacroix told The Denver Post last month. “His name is not Todd Bertuzzi. It’s Brad May.”
May, who averages 148 penalty minutes a season, claims he made the comment in jest to a single reporter in Vancouver, a few days before the game.
The Avalanche, at least publicly, say they’ve embraced May and look forward to being his teammate.
“I’ve said it before, I feel bad for what happened to Steve,” captain Joe Sakic said. “But Brad’s not the one who did it. I’m sure he feels bad for what happened.”
“He’s fitting in great,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “He’s been well-received by his teammates. I think the fans will like him.”
May, of course, wants to be liked, especially by his teammates.
During his 10 minutes of interview time Monday, though, he seemed perfectly happy with himself, regardless of what people think about him or the role he played in one of the NHL’s nastier episodes.
“I’m happy for who Brad May is,” he said. “I’m proud of myself. I’m a great father, a great husband, a great teammate and I’m excited about helping this team out.”
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