Canucks, Bertuzzi at odds

The Vancouver Canucks have shipped Todd Bertuzzi to the Florida Panthers, and now they are trying...

The Vancouver Canucks have shipped Todd Bertuzzi to the Florida Panthers, and now they are trying to distance themselves from him in the Steve Moore civil lawsuit. (Calgary Sun/Kevin Udahl)

STEVE SIMMONS -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 9:31 AM ET

The Vancouver Canucks and Todd Bertuzzi have turned on each other in the civil lawsuit launched by former NHL player Steve Moore.

First, the Canucks traded Bertuzzi away. Now in court documents filed in Ontario, they have distanced themselves from their former player in the $19.5-million case filed by Moore.

Bertuzzi, meanwhile, has made similar counterclaims against the Canucks.

Each side is pointing the finger at each other for whatever damages may be awarded -- and likely will be awarded -- in the civil action launched by the former Colorado player.

The lawsuit -- now three-sided with the Moore family taking on Bertuzzi and the Canucks and the Canucks and Bertuzzi taking on each other -- is apparent in Statements of Defence filed by attorneys representing both the team and Bertuzzi in the Ontario Superior Court of Justice earlier this month.

Moore, the little-known National Hockey League forward whose hockey career ostensibly was ended by Bertuzzi's on-ice attack in a game March 8, 2004, filed a multi-faceted suit, along with his parents, Jack and Anna Moore, seeking damages from Bertuzzi, the Canucks and Orca Bay Hockey Limited Partnership, the owners of the NHL team.

In the Statement of Claim filed last February, Moore's representative insisted he was a target of Bertuzzi and used the following statements attributed to Bertuzzi to provide evidence:

- "That kid's a piece of s---. We play them twice more and hopefully they'll keep him (in the lineup). It's called respect."

- "There's no way that punk will be in their lineup in March."

- At the time, teammate Brad May had said: "There's definitely a bounty on his head. Clean hit or not, that's our best player (Markus Naslund) and you respond. It's going to be fun when we get him."

- Said Jarkko Ruutu: "Down the road, there's gong to be pay-up time."

Nobody figured payback time would end up in an Ontario court, where at least now, jurisdiction for the case has been determined after much posturing.

Depositions in the case are expected to begin next month.

In his statement of defence, Bertuzzi questions the degree of Moore's injuries, challenges the claim of Moore's parents to any damages and takes on the NHL's version of what occurred in the game in Vancouver between the Canucks and Colorado Avalanche.

In the court papers filed, Bertuzzi specifically denies "he intended to injury Steve Moore or that he was indifferent to Moore's fate and acted in reckless disregard of the consequences of his actions."

Bertuzzi does admit "profound regret" for his actions.

But he does take direct issue with the NHL version of what occurred leading up and during that night as well as other aspects of Moore's statement of claim. And that could get quite interesting once depositions of league and former league employees has been completed.

- "Bertuzzi denies that he had received warnings from National Hockey League officials" the statement of defence reads. But just after the incident, NHL vice-president Colin Campbell clearly stated that numerous calls were made to the Canucks prior to the game and former referee-in-chief Andy van Hellemond called during the game to make certain there would be no incident. The truth will be determined in civil court.

- Bertuzzi denied "that the Plaintiff, Steve Moore, has sustained all of the damages alleged." Moore has attempted to get medical clearance to return to hockey a number of times since the incident but has not been given the go-ahead to resume his career.

- Bertuzzi believes the court should dismiss the actions brought forth by Moore's parents -- along with court costs -- saying he "has no knowledge of any emotional injuries or loss of care, guidance and companionship."

In their statement of defence, the Canucks deny that they were in any way negligent. They also deny they are "vicariously liable for the acts, errors or omissions of Bertuzzi."

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