Crawford had 'some influence': Bertuzzi testimony

Marc Crawford's comments before the final period of the infamous game between Vancouver and Colorado had "some influence" on his decision to try and pick a fight with Steve Moore, Todd Bertuzzi claimed in testimony in a multimillion-dollar civil case before the Ontario courts.

Marc Crawford'swords to hisclubbefore the final period of the infamous game between Vancouver and Colorado had "some influence" on his decision to try and pick a fight with Steve Moore, Todd Bertuzzi claimed intestimony in amultimillion-dollarcivil case before the Ontario courts.

Bertuzzi's legal teamdecided Tuesday not to appeal the release of discovery testimony in Moore's suit against Bertuzziand Orca Bay Ltd., the former owners of the Vancouver Canucks.

Bertuzzi, who's now with the Anaheim Ducks, was an all-star forward for the Canucks when he hit Moore from behind late in the third period of a 9-2 loss to the Colorado Avalanche on March 8, 2004.

Moore suffered three broken vertebrae in his neck and a concussion, has not played since, and is suing Bertuzzi and Orca Bay Ltd., former owner of the Canucks, for$38 million.

According to the amended statement of claim filed on Moore's behalf, Bertuzzi stated that Vancouver coach Crawford pointed to Moore's name and sweater number on a board in the dressing room and told his players, "He [Moore] must pay the price."

Vancouver was trailing badly heading into the final period of the game played at GM Place in Vancouver.

"I think he [Crawford] was pissed off at everything that was going on to begin with," Bertuzzisaid. "So obviously he was pretty angry."

Bertuzzi told Moore's lawyer Tim Danson that Crawford's comments had "some influence" on his decision to try and pick a fight with Moore.

"I think in general if I didn't go out and do something, fight someone, it would have been a pretty long week for me," Bertuzziadded later when asked about the consequences of not fighting the Avalanche player.

Bertuzzi later told Danson he didn't recall an occasion where Crawford had directly ordered players to fight, however.

"There's a difference between sending players out and knowing that once in awhile that you have a job to do and whether it's your description to do it," Bertuzzi said.

Allegations not yet decided upon

The allegations in the amended claim have not been proved in court, with the case itself not expected to be heard for several months.

CBC News first obtained a portion of the documents last week, but the entire transcript of the proceedings was publicly released after Bertuzzi decided not to appeal a procedural stay by the Crown attorney.

Master Ronald Dash of the Ontario Court of Justice ruled on Monday to release the transcripts of the discovery barring any appeal.

In the discovery examination, Bertuzzi said he skated up ice withMoore and asked himseveral times to fight, but didn't get a response.

Bertuzzi was asked some 1,300 questions under oath, many of which he did not answer on the advice of his lawyer, Geoffrey Adair.

Vancouver general manager David Nonis, the assistant GM at the time, offered Danson a slightly different take on Crawford's comments in a separate hearing, stressing that he wasn't in the dressing room.

Nonis said some Canucks players told him that Crawford had pointed to the names of a number of Colorado players before the game, including Moore,and said " … they got to pay the price tonight."

Nonis called the language "not uncommon" for a hockey coach.

"And my understanding is that included a number of players, you know, [Milan] Hejduk and [Joe] Sakic, and things that, I"m sure, coaches say on a regular basis," Nonis said.

Nonis said the Vancouver players that told him were Naslund, Trevor Linden, and Mattias Ohlund.

Canucks deny claims

The Canucks had been upset by a Moore hit on Naslund in a previous regular-season game. During the return contest, Moore and Vancouver's Matt Cooke engaged in a first-period fight.

The Canucks defended their former coach in a statement released on Dec. 7.

"At no time did the Vancouver Canucks organization or any of its management and employees, including former coach Mr. Crawford, encourage or promote the incident that occurred between Todd Bertuzzi and Steve Moore on March 8, 2004," the statement read.

The club also decried the increased publicity surrounding the case in recent weeks thatincluded a report in November that Bertuzzi had offered $350,000 to settle the lawsuit, an amount reduced from a previous offer.

Crawford, now coaching the Los Angeles Kings, said recently he would not publicly comment further on the incident.

Moore, 28, earlier this year granted CBC News his first television interview since the incident, and said doctors had told him they were doubtful he could make a comeback.

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.

Bertuzzi was asked by Danson in the discovery process why he pleaded guilty.

"Because I didn't want to put my family through anything, and I didn't want to put anyone else through anything," Bertuzzi replied.

Vancouver police said recently there were no plans to reopen the case criminally, but that any information would be assessed.

Bertuzzi recently returned to the lineup for theDucks after sustaining a concussion earlier in the season.

With files from the Canadian Press