Former Vancouver Canucks head coach Marc Crawford claims that Todd Bertuzzi acted in "direct disobedience" to instructions from the bench when he attacked Colorado Avalanche forward Steve Moore, breaking his neck and ending his career, according to court documents.
Crawford, in documents filed with the Ontario Superior Court of Justice, pleads that the Canucks coaching staff was trying to get Bertuzzi off the ice before his infamous sucker punch on Moore in a game on March 8, 2004.
"Just prior to the attack on Moore, Bertuzzi had been on a shift to kill a penalty, had missed the shift change and had remained on the ice for longer than the rest of his line," stated Crawford's third-party defence. "After being directed to get off the ice, Bertuzzi was on his way back to the bench when, suddenly and without warning, he turned around and skated back in the direction of Moore … and attacked Moore.
"This was not done under any specific or general direction or encouragement from Crawford, was a direct disobedience of the instruction that Bertuzzi had been given from the bench to get off the ice and was a violation of Bertuzzi's duties which Crawford could not be expected to have reasonably anticipated, let alone control."
The defence was filed last month in response to a third-party claim by Bertuzzi that Crawford should pay any damages that are awarded to Moore.
Moore and his family previously filed a lawsuit seeking $38 million for loss of income and damages.
Named as defendants were Bertuzzi, the Canucks and the company, Orca Bay, which owned the NHL franchise at the time.