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Bertuzzi puts Crawford on notice

He says his former Vancouver coach also is culpable for 2004 on-ice hit on Moore.

March 29, 2008|Eric Stephens and Lisa Dillman | Times Staff Writers

Todd Bertuzzi went on the legal offensive to defend his actions in the 2004 on-ice attack against Colorado's Steve Moore, alleging his then-coach Marc Crawford should be held partially responsible for the incident.

Bertuzzi, formerly with the Vancouver Canucks and now with the Ducks, filed what is called a third-party notice in Ontario Superior Court in Canada. He has not sued Crawford, as some reports have suggested. Crawford now coaches the Kings.

Bertuzzi received widespread condemnation throughout North America for hitting Moore from behind in that game on March 8, 2004, and effectively ending Moore's playing career. Moore, who suffered a broken neck and a concussion, is suing Bertuzzi for $38 million.

Bertuzzi has previously alleged that Crawford said Moore must "pay the price" to Vancouver players in the dressing room in response to Moore's knocking out Canucks captain Markus Naslund with a open-ice hit in a previous meeting.

According to documents filed March 3 and obtained by the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. on Friday, Bertuzzi also alleges that Crawford "failed to exercise control over and caution his players against physical aggression toward Moore when he knew or ought to have known that this was likely to result in injury to Moore."

Bertuzzi's lawyer, Geoffrey Adair, told Canwest News Service, "This is a lawsuit and we're going to fight it out in court, not in the press."

Crawford has not been named as a defendant in the Moore lawsuit. Reached at the Kings' practice facility in El Segundo, Crawford said, "If I was faced with a legal matter, I would comment. But I have no comment."

Moore's lawyer, Tim Danson, could not be reached for comment. Bertuzzi referred any comment to his agent, Pat Morris, who declined to comment. One Canadian legal expert thought Bertuzzi would face difficulties pulling Crawford into the legal fray.

"It's a pretty ambiguous direction," University of Alberta law professor Russell Brown said. "There are lots of opportunities within the rules of hockey . . . that might fall within how you make someone pay. It's not obvious that's an instruction to go out and actually intentionally injure someone."

Brown also questioned Bertuzzi's claim that he was "contractually bound" to follow Crawford's alleged order.

"It seems a stretch to say that you're contractually bound to do that," Brown said. "That's a huge leap. Even in hockey."

Bertuzzi is in his first season with the Ducks after signing a two-year free-agent contract with the club last summer. Crawford is in his second season as coach of the Kings.

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eric.stephens@latimes.com

lisa.dillman@latimes.com

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