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It’s been 44 months since the incident occurred, and here we are still talking about No. 44 and the night of March 8, 2004.
The latest in the Todd Bertuzzi/Steve Moore saga is the legal claim that then-coach Marc Crawford wrote Moore’s number on the board in between periods at GM Place that ill-fated night, pointed to it and said, “(Moore) has to pay the price.”
At this point it is nothing more than an allegation, but let’s say for the sake of argument that it’s true; how culpable is Crawford?
If we make the assumption that professional athletes are under some obligation to carry out the wishes of their coaches, then Crawford’s alleged directive appears somewhat serious. That said, no one is claiming that Crawford specifically commissioned Bertuzzi to exact revenge on Moore for the latter’s hit on Markus Naslund, which is where this story really begins.
Bertuzzi made a choice to take matters into his own hands in a way the other 17 Canucks skaters dressed that night did not.
Interestingly enough, the Avalanche head coach at the time, Tony Granato, is not named in the lawsuit. If the Moore camp is calling into question the actions of one head coach that night, then why not the other?
Any hockey aficionado knows the long tradition of retribution in the game, which is why no one was surprised to see Moore repeatedly challenged to fight, even by Bertuzzi, prior to the infamous incident. Granato played 14 years in the NHL prior to coaching and was well aware Moore would be asked to answer the bell in the third period, especially given the lopsided scoreboard (it was 6-2 Colorado at the time).
If Crawford is at fault for his alleged role in the incident, is Granato not to blame for putting Moore on the ice in a volatile environment? Did the referees not take enough control of the game that night? Should the NHL be on trial for its long history of allowing some form of on-ice justice to occur? The finger pointing could go on forever.
At the end of the day, Bertuzzi made a decision he regrets but must be held accountable for. Unless it can be corroborated that Crawford specifically ordered Bertuzzi to harm Moore, I don’t see this absolving Bertuzzi of any responsibility.
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