Canucks deny allegations coach called for retaliation on Steve Moore

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VANCOUVER - The Vancouver Canucks have denied former coach Marc Crawford called for retaliation against former Colorado Avalanche forward Steve Moore.

The team released a statement Friday after court documents in Moore's multi-million dollar lawsuit against former Canucks forward Todd Bertuzzi alleged that Crawford pointed to Moore's name on the Avalanche roster board and demanded Moore must "pay the price."

"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 said.

"We believe that many of the proposed allegations now being advanced on behalf of Mr. Moore against the Vancouver Canucks are inaccurate or speculative. The Vancouver Canucks believe they are intended to inflame the public and create further media interest in the case."

The allegations, which have not been proven in court, come in a proposed amended statement of claim filed in Moore's lawsuit against Bertuzzi and Orca Bay Hockey, the parent company of the Canucks at the time.

Bertuzzi attacked Moore from behind during a March 8, 2004 game.

The Canucks were angry with Moore leading up to the attack after Moore delivered a questionable hit on Canucks star Markus Naslund during a Feb. 16, 2004 game that was not penalized.

The documents allege that Crawford, between the second and third periods of the March game, demanded Moore "pay the price."

"An enraged Crawford, inside the Canuck dressing room, pointed to Steve Moore's name and number on a board containing the Avalanche roster and demanded that 'he (Moore) must pay the price,"' the amended statement of claim reads.

The new allegations follow interviews with key participants that are routinely conducted before a case goes to trial.

A motion to allow the amendments claims both Bertuzzi and representatives of Orca Bay Hockey made an "admission" that Crawford "told his players that Steve Moore 'must pay the price.' "

Bertuzzi's lawyers have asked the court to seal the transcripts from those interviews.

On Wednesday, a court official reserved judgment on that request.

Tim Danson, Moore's lawyer, said he was surprised by the Canucks release Friday.

"It causes me considerable concern and it touches upon matters that are presently the subject matter of a reserved judgment," he said in a telephone interview from Toronto.

The proposed amendment further describes Crawford as "directing vigilante retaliation" against Moore and adds that, "Bertuzzi knew exactly what was expected of him by his superiors and the consequences to him if he did not deliver."

The Canucks release said the allegations "are not formally before a court" and the Ontario Superior Court will decide on Jan. 21 whether to allow the amendments.

"If on Jan. 21, 2008, the court permits these allegations to be advanced by Mr. Moore, these allegations will be defended vigorously by the Canucks," the release said.

Crawford is now the coach of the Los Angeles Kings.

The assault on Moore resulted in Bertuzzi serving a 17-month suspension. He also was charged, then pleaded guilty to assault causing bodily harm and received a conditional discharge.

He was reinstated by the NHL in August 2005 and was named to Canada's Olympic hockey team that same year.

Bertuzzi signed a two-year deal with the Anaheim Ducks earlier this year.

Moore hasn't played hockey since the 2004 assault.

The proposed amended statement of claim seeks $38 million from Bertuzzi and Orca Bay Hockey.


Mat Barzal

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