With Bob Hartley now out of the mix for the Montreal Canadiens coaching job, the list of rumoured candidates has been narrowed to Michel Therrien, Marc Crawford and possibly Guy Carboneau. (this is according to Bob McKensie and my uncle Bob). Again this is just a rumour.
If indeed Crawford is up for the job, the Steve Moore/Bertuzzi lawsuit may play a role in whether he is hired as the next head coach of the Canadiens. Even if he is not a candidate, the impact of the Moore/Bertuzzi lawsuit on his employability generally is worth a look.
If you place the Bertuzzi affair aside, Crawford seems aligned with the profile and culture owner Geoff Molson is trying to create for the Canadiens. Crawford is known as a strong communicator, open, amiable and press friendly. For this reason, of the rumoured candidates, Crawford makes the most sense from that standpoint.
However, when you throw in a possible fall trial in the Moore/Bertuzzi case, or simply the threat of pending litigation, things become a bit murkier for the gregarious coach.
To say the least, the Moore/Bertuzzi trial would get a lot of attention and would be heavily covered by the media. The case is a watershed moment for violence in hockey, and with that will come great interest and scrutiny.
Moore has alleged that Crawford, Bertuzzi and then Canucks GM Brian Burke entered into “an unlawful plan and agreement to assault, batter and injure Moore”. As well, after Bertuzzi was sued by Moore, he turned around and sued (or issued a crossclaim) alleging that Crawford encouraged Canuck players to make Moore “pay the price” for knocking out Vancouver captain Markus Naslund in an earlier game. Bertuzzi also alleged that some of the responsibility for the attack should fall on Crawford who "failed to exercise control over and caution his players against physical aggression toward Moore” (here’s a copy of the crossclaim).
Bertuzzi has since discontinued or dismissed his Claim against Crawford. However, Crawford remains part of the narrative of this case and part of the story. And more importantly, Crawford will be a witness at trial. Given that the trial may start in the September or October, Crawford may end up testifying during the NHL season.
Indeed, all this could be very distracting, and something the Canadiens will look at in determining whether Crawford is the right person for the job. Do the Canadiens want this type of distraction? Are they willing to put up with Crawford as a witness in a trial that may go down as a seminal moment in hockey history? There is a lot for the team to consider.
Ultimately, it may not be determinative, but will certainly be part of the decision making process.