Todd Bertuzzi has filed court papers claiming that the negligence of former Vancouver Canucks head coach Marc Crawford contributed to Bertuzzi's infamous sucker punch of Steve Moore in March 2004, according to documents obtained by CBC News.
"We are not prepared to comment, except to say Todd Bertuzzi has claimed that Marc Crawford has to share in the responsibility for any damages awarded to Steve Moore," Geoffrey Adair, who is Bertuzzi's lawyer, told CBC News on Friday.
Bertuzzi was an all-star forward for the Canucks when he hit Moore from behind 8:41 into the third period of a 9-2 loss to the Colorado Avalanche on March 8, 2004 in Vancouver.
The punch came after an earlier game in which Moore knocked Vancouver captain Markus Naslund unconscious with an open-ice hit to the head. Moore wasn't penalized on the play.
Bertuzzi's punch left Moore with three broken vertebrae in his neck and a concussion. Moore hasn't played since, and is suing Bertuzzi — now with the Anaheim Ducks — for upward of $38 million. Crawford — now the head coach of the Los Angeles Kings — was not named as a defendant in the suit.
The third-party claim filed in Ontario Superior Court by Bertuzzi's lawyers alleges that Crawford should be named in the suit because he allegedly urged his players in March 2004, including Bertuzzi, to make Moore "pay the price" when Crawford "knew or ought to have known that this was likely to result in injury to Moore."
The papers also allege that Crawford "failed to exercise control over and caution his players against physical aggression toward Moore."
The NHL suspended Bertuzzi indefinitely for attacking Moore, and didn't reinstate him until Aug. 8, 2005 — exactly 17 months later.
Bertuzzi remained under suspension throughout the 310-day NHL lockout and was prohibited from competing in the 2004 World Cup of Hockey, two world championships and in European pro leagues.
He also forfeited $501,926.39 US in salary and hundreds of thousands more in endorsements.
Criminal charges filed against Bertuzzi in Vancouver resulted in a guilty plea and a sentence of one year's probation plus 80 hours of community service.
Moore later filed a lawsuit in Denver against Bertuzzi and other notables, including Canucks ownership, but it was dismissed.
With Bertuzzi in Turin, Italy, playing for Team Canada at the Winter Olympics, Moore filed a second lawsuit on Feb. 15, 2006.
At the time, he was seeking $18 million for lost income, aggravated and punitive damages, but is now demanding $38 million in an amended claim.