In court filing, Crawford says Bertuzzi acted against coaches' orders

In a court document filed with a Canadian court last month, former Vancouver Canucks coach Marc Crawford asserted that Todd Bertuzzi acted in "direct disobedience" of Crawford's instructions prior to Bertuzzi's on-ice attack of Steve Moore in March 2004.

Bertuzzi, now with the Calgary Flames, is seeking to have Crawford added as a defendant in Moore's lawsuit, which is seeking up to $38 million and also names Bertuzzi, the Canucks and the Canucks' parent company, Orca Bay, as defendants.

The Toronto Star first reported the court filing and story.

Crawford's "third-party statement of defense," filed with the Ontario Superior Court, claims that Bertuzzi was on the ice for a penalty kill just before he attacked Moore, and that Canucks coaches were trying to pull Bertuzzi off the ice after missing a shift change.

Moore, then a forward with the Colorado Avalanche, suffered severe neck and head injuries in the March 8, 2004 incident, when Bertuzzi sucker punched him from behind, knocking him unconscious to the ice. Moore has not played professional hockey since.

According to the court filing, Crawford denied directing any of his players to exact revenge for Moore's hit on Canucks captain Markus Naslund in a previous game.

"After being directed to get off the ice, Bertuzzi was on his way back to the bench when, suddenly and without warning, he turned around and skated back in the direction of Moore, and attacked Moore," Crawford stated, according to the court filing.

"This was not done under any specific or general direction or encouragement from Crawford, was a direct disobedience of the instruction that Bertuzzi had been given from the bench to get off the ice, and was a violation of Bertuzzi's duties which Crawford could not be expected to have reasonably anticipated, let alone control,'' the court filing stated.

Bertuzzi was suspended by the NHL and charged with assault causing bodily harm in June 2004 after a four-month investigation. He pleaded guilty, received a conditional discharge and was sentenced to probation and community service.

Bertuzzi was reinstated by the NHL after 17 months -- time that also included the 2004-05 lockout.

He made brief appearances with the Detroit Red Wings and Florida Panthers before signing a two-year deal with the Anaheim Ducks. The Ducks bought out his contract after the 2007-08 season; he signed a one-year, $1.95 million deal with the Flames in early July.

Crawford was the Canucks' coach from 1998-99 to 2005-06, and left to become coach of the Los Angeles Kings in 2006. He coached the Kings for two seasons, going 59-84-21, before being fired June 10.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.