Moore 'paid the price'

SCOTT MORRISON

, Last Updated: 9:20 AM ET

Must pay the price.

What exactly does the phrase mean? Is it, say, Darcy Tucker fighting with Sean Avery after insults were exchanged in a pre-game warmup, because Avery must pay the price for his alleged indiscretion?

Is it, say, Wade Belak fighting with Cam Janssen as payback for the latter inflicting a late hit and serious injury on Tomas Kaberle in a previous game, because Janssen must pay the price for taking down a star player?

In both cases the answer is yes, but it didn't require a coach to utter the phrase. It is simply part of the culture and code of the game that players defend their own in some way, either in a fight or with a punishing hit, but hopefully within the confines of the rules, or the outlets of response that are deemed "legal."

It is no different than a brushback pitch in baseball. Players, or teams, who feel wronged seek retribution, especially in a physical sport. But the key is how they exact that retribution. Sadly, sometimes the reaction is excessive, most often it is not.

Must pay the price. The phrase will now long be associated with former Vancouver Canucks coach Marc Crawford. Documents filed in Ontario court this week said that former Canucks winger Todd Bertuzzi alleged that his coach, between periods in a game against the Colorado Avalanche on March 8, 2004, pointed to a board in the dressing room, to Steve Moore's name and number in particular, and said that "(Moore) must pay the price." Nothing has been proved in court. But what exactly does that phrase mean?

In the wake of Moore incurring the wrath of the Canucks in an earlier game, when he had checked captain Markus Naslund with what was described as a questionable hit but one unpunished by the NHL, there are obvious assumptions that can be made. But they are only assumptions.

But what exactly was an apparently enraged Crawford expecting that night? How responsible does it make him for what happened afterward? Only Crawford can answer the first question, the courts may deal with the second.

What we do know, for the moment, is that Crawford didn't say what precisely had to happen on the ice that night. We do know that what ultimately happened flew in the face of orders from the league to maintain decorum, especially after Moore already had been challenged to "pay the price" in an earlier fight with Matt Cooke. Having said all that, the comments attributed to Crawford were still ambiguous in terms of what was to follow.

"Contrary to impressions made by some reports these allegations are not yet formally before a court and will require a court order before they are permitted to be made," the Canucks responded in a press release yesterday. "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."

Must pay the price. "You know how many times that's said?" Kings general manager Dean Lombardi, who now employs Crawford, told the L.A. Times. "What you're asking in the culture of hockey: What does 'pay the price' mean? You can go to an individual, 'You have to start paying the price, i.e., take a hit.' You've got to make the other team pay the price, that could be as much as going in running a guy in the forecheck or going to the net hard.

"...Now you move up the ladder. 'Okay, is paying the price going up to a guy and saying, 'Hey, next time you touch this guy, I'm coming after you?' This doesn't only happen in our sport. Let's get real. You throw a fastball at my guy and I'll throw one at you ..."

Must pay the price. Many, including Steve Moore, continue to pay it.


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