Bertuzzi points to coach

STEVE SIMMONS -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 10:59 AM ET

Todd Bertuzzi had admitted under oath he was worried he would have had a "pretty long week" had he not gone after Steve Moore in the 2004 National Hockey League game that ended Moore's career.

His "pretty long week" has turned into several pretty long -- and potentially expensive -- years .

Bertuzzi's voluminous testimony -- some of it contradicting previous public apologies made and some of it contradicting his guilty plea of assault in Vancouver -- was filed yesterday with the Ontario Superior Court and once again central to the $38-million lawsuit that hockey wants to go away is the role coach Marc Crawford may have played in Bertuzzi's apparent assault on Moore.

Bertuzzi said in discovery he was concerned he would have been "challenged" by Crawford in a team meeting the next day had he not gone after Moore.

Bertuzzi testified that Crawford was "pissed off at everything that was going on ... he was pretty angry" prior to the incident. Crawford was caught on television cameras smirking as Moore lay on the ice unconscious.

Both Bertuzzi and Canucks' general manager Dave Nonis (who was then the assistant GM) have agreed in different ways in discovery that Crawford's insistence that Moore "must pay the price" played a part in one of the ugliest incidents in hockey history.

"What would have happened had you not had the incident with Steve Moore, vis-a-vis you and Mr. Crawford?" Moore's lawyer, Tim Danson, asked Bertuzzi in discovery.

"I think in general if I didn't go out and do something, fight someone, it would have been a pretty long week for me," Bertuzzi said.

"What does that mean?" asked Danson.

"It means I would have heard about it from him. I would have been challenged the next day in a meeting," Bertuzzi said.

Bertuzzi also testified that he called Moore a "f---ing pussy" during play in the March 8 game in 2004, and challenged him to fight.

"What I remember is, coming in at him with another player ... I remember skating with him all the way up the ice and asking him to fight. I asked him four, five, six, seven times to fight," Bertuzzi said.

"...I'm saying 'Let's fight, Let's go.' I don't want to say what exactly I said because there's two women in here, unless you want me to say it...

"...I called him a f---ing pussy. I said 'Let's go.' "

Bertuzzi went on say: "I just wanted to fight ... I just, I think I just felt like fighting..."

The discovery testimony of both Bertuzzi and Nonis make the Canucks' recent response to reports of Bertuzzi's testimony seem less than credible. The Canucks claimed that "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 Canucks called reports of Crawford's possible indiscretions as "inaccurate and speculative. The Vancouver Canucks believe they are intended to inflame the public and create further media interest in the case."

There was nothing "inaccurate" reported recently about the case.

A few facts worth updating: 1) Both Bertuzzi and Nonis have testified under oath that Crawford challenged the team to make Moore "pay the price" although the time frame of those allegations differs somewhat. Nonis said Crawford targeted Moore as well as Joe Sakic and Milan Hejduk.

2) If the recent reports are, as the Canucks insist, inaccurate and speculative, then they are, in fact, challenging the validity of Nonis, their own general manager and spokesman in this case, and Bertuzzi, their former player.

3) After Nonis replaced Brian Burke as general manager of the Canucks, three long-time Vancouver players -- Markus Naslund, Trevor Linden and Mathias Ohlund -- told the GM independently that Crawford had challenged his team to go after Moore.

Naslund, Linden and Ohlund told Nonis that Crawford singled out Moore and other players on the Colorado Avalanche prior to the game in question.

Bertuzzi testified that Moore was centred out between the second and third period of the game.

"I think it influenced (Moore) being challenged by a lot of players," said Bertuzzi, who described Crawford as a "very demanding coach" who was "very hard on a lot of his players."

He also said Crawford made him a better player but "it was tough mentally" to play for him.

Danson: "Were you influenced by what Mr. Crawford said."

Bertuzzi: "Yeah, I think it had some influence on going out to try to fight him."

In all, Bertuzzi was deposed on four different occasions and refused to answer more than 100 different questions. It was clear in Nonis' testimony that as assistant GM at the time, he had little knowledge about the depth of the incident.

Bertuzzi also admitted under oath that he pleaded guilty to assault charges in British Columbia because "I didn't want to put my family though anything."

Bertuzzi was paid $10.5 million for the past two NHL seasons and will earn $4 million this year and next.

Moore's contract expired at the end of the 2004 season.


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