Court documents allege Bertuzzi's attack on Moore was on Crawford's orders

Updated: December 7, 2007, 11:30 AM ET
ESPN.com news services

TORONTO -- Todd Bertuzzi's on-ice attack on Steve Moore in 2004 might have been ordered by former Vancouver Canucks coach Marc Crawford, according to Canadian media reports.

Bertuzzi, then with the Canucks, grabbed Moore, a Colorado Avalanche rookie, from behind during a 2004 game, punched him in the side of the head, then landed on top of Moore, driving his head into the ice. Moore, who lay in a pool of blood for several minutes, was removed on a stretcher. Moore suffered a broken neck and a concussion; doctors have since ordered him to retire from the NHL. He filed a lawsuit against Bertuzzi, the Canucks and their parent company in Ontario in February 2006.

A statement of claim filed in Ontario Superior Court by Moore's lawyer and obtained by Canadian media outlets said Crawford pointed to Moore's name and number on a board in the Canucks' locker room during the second intermission of that game and said, " ... [Moore] must pay the price."

The court documents also allege that, as Moore lay motionless, "a television camera panned to Crawford who was smirking," according to The Toronto Star.

In an accompanying document, Moore's lawyer claims Crawford's statement was disclosed by Bertuzzi while under oath, and by then-Canucks general manager Dave Nonis.

A month prior to the Bertuzzi-Moore incident during a Feb. 16 game in Denver, Moore checked Canucks forward Markus Naslund, which led to talk of retribution against him and culminated with the Bertuzzi hit a month later.

Crawford, who declined to answer specific questions about the allegations Wednesday after the Kings' 4-1 loss to Phoenix, was not made available to the media this morning. He instead issued a statement released by the team.

"Media reports have recently resurfaced regarding my alleged involvement in the 2004 on-ice incident in Vancouver," Crawford said. "When this occurred more than three years ago, I responded to every possible question and inquiry about this unfortunate incident. With that in mind, I am not going to re-engage this process and comment further on these reports."

Bertuzzi, who signed a two-year, $8-million contract with the Anaheim Ducks in July, refused to comment when approached after the Ducks' 4-1 win over Buffalo on Wednesday night.

The NHL gave Bertuzzi a 17-month suspension for the Moore hit. He gave up about $502,000 in salary, and missed 13 regular-season games and the Stanley Cup playoffs in 2004. He also was prevented from playing hockey overseas during the lockout season.

Bertuzzi was later charged with assault causing bodily harm. He pleaded guilty and was given a conditional discharge and one year's probation.

Vancouver city police Sgt. Ross Jackson said Wednesday that if someone files a complaint, players or coaches who misled or lied to police could face obstruction charges, according to the Star.

Bertuzzi made the startling claim in August when lawyers questioned him in connection with Moore's civil lawsuit against the Canucks and himself. Also on Wednesday, Moore increased the amount he's demanding from $15 million to $38 million.

Moore's parents are also suing for $3.5 million. Bertuzzi's camp previously offered $350,000 to settle the claim.

It's unclear whether the NHL knew about Crawford's alleged actions. An NHL spokesperson declined comment.

The court documents also reveal that hours before that game, NHL official Colin Campbell spoke with Nonis and "again cautioned Canuck management against carrying out the threats that Bertuzzi and others had made against Moore," the Star reported.

"Nonis ... advised Crawford of his conversation with Campbell and asked Crawford to telephone Campbell, which he did," the Star reported, citing the court documents.

Moore's lawyers allege that, even in the face of the NHL warning, Crawford directed "vigilante retaliation" be taken against Moore.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.