In a counter punch to the ever on going legal proceedings between Steve Moore and Todd Bertuzzi , former Vancouver Canuck Head coach Marc Crawford has drawn a definitive line between his stewardship of the Vancouver Canucks and the now historic activities of his then right winger on that infamous night of March 8, 2004.
Crawford has entered a third-party statement of defence in Ontario court, that categorically denies that he had any part in the on ice attack on the Colorado player and further more never urged Bertuzzi or any Canuck to make anyone “pay the price” during the course of that game.
Crawford was drawn into the proceedings in March of this year, when the Bertuzzi side suggested that Crawford must share in any responsibility and damages of the hit.
Crawford’s statement made last month is designed to insulate him from any of the current legal wrangling, moves which might have made him responsible for a portion of any subsequent damages that may be directed towards Mr. Moore as a result of this ongoing court case.
In terms that make the usual “get off the ice” quote issued by coaches worldwide seem rather quaint and definitely parsimonious in quantity, Crawford's legal team issued some legal jargon that has taken those four words and turned them into a 52 word paragraph that portrays Mr. Bertuzzi as a rather disobedient student of the game.
"This was not done under any specific or general direction 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 controlled."
It will be of interest to not only Mr. Moore’s legal team, but Bertuzzi’s as well to see if the statement of defence will suffice to remove Mr. Crawford from the rigours of court room challenges.
While it turns into a case of "he said this; he heard that" as far as the Bertuzzi and Crawford relationship goes, one must think back to the original time and a now vital dressing room board message and how it might have been interpreted as an interesting addition to the proceedings.
Unfortunately, there is no permanent record of blackboard messages, a smoking gun of potential evidence that would have surely have been provided for if this were a TV court drama.
While the two former Canuck principles work out their positions on the legal front, they both will be making their plans for the coming season.
Mr. Bertuzzi prepares for his Calgary Flames training camp, while Mr. Crawford makes plans for his return to the CBC and Hockey Night in Canada.
As for Mr. Moore, he will spend his late summer and early fall entering the fourth year of his removal from the NHL, waiting for closure on the most talked about on ice incident in recent history, waiting to see how his claim for 38 million dollars in damages will turn out.
With him no doubt will be an entire league (not to mention the fans of it) hoping that soon the dark stain of 2004 will be properly and fairly taken care of. The delays and posturing have gone long enough, perhaps there can be final resolution to an affair that has taken far too long to address and deliver a final deliberation.