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Notebook: Bertuzzi's assault case pushed back

| Friday, July 23, 2004

VANCOUVER, British Colombia -- Todd Bertuzzi's assault case was pushed back to Aug. 10 to give his lawyers more time to examine police evidence disclosed by prosecutors.

The case was supposed to resume Thursday, but prosecution and defense lawyers appeared in court to ask for more time. Bertuzzi's lawyer, Len Doust, said there are no difficulties in the process -- just a lot of information from the police investigation to examine.

Bertuzzi, who plays for the Vancouver Canucks, was charged with assaulting Colorado's Steve Moore during a game.

Following the court appearance, Doust was asked when he thought the trial would begin.

"I just have no idea. It's up to the court," he said.

An arraignment date will likely be set when the case resumes on Aug. 10.

"Aside from the media attention, this case is being treated in an ordinary fashion. Although, there was a significant police investigation, resulting in a large amount of material that we have to sift through," prosecution spokesman Geoff Gaul said.

He wouldn't discuss how many witnesses the prosecution plans to call or the nature of the evidence against Bertuzzi.

"It's our belief we have a strong case of substance," Gaul said.

"For the accused and the public, I don't want to give this impression that we are trying this case in the media," he said. "Mr. Bertuzzi, like any other accused, is to be presumed innocent."

If convicted, the 29-year-old player could face a penalty ranging from jail time to a guilty decision with no criminal record.

Bertuzzi was suspended indefinitely by the NHL, missing 13 regular-season games and seven postseason games, losing nearly $502,000 in salary, following his blind-side punch to Moore's head on March 8 in Vancouver.

Moore was hospitalized with three fractured vertebrae, facial cuts, post-concussion symptoms and amnesia. Nerves in the neck area were stretched.

It was not known then when, or if, the Colorado Avalanche center would play again.

Bertuzzi has not been seen in public since Vancouver's playoff game April 19, after which Canucks players presented game-worn sweaters to selected fans. Bertuzzi received a huge ovation when he walked onto the ice wearing his No. 44 sweater over a shirt and tie. He hugged a fan, waved to admirers and went back in the dressing room.

Rangers re-sign defenseman Rachunek

NEW YORK -- The New York Rangers re-signed defenseman Karel Rachunek and added two minor league players.

Rachunek, a restricted free agent, had two goals and 19 assists in 72 games with the Rangers and Ottawa Senators last season.

New York also signed left wing Lucas Lawson and defenseman Jeff MacMillan. Lawson skated in 32 games with the Hartford Wolf Pack of the American Hockey League last season, scoring three goals and adding four assists.

MacMillan spent most of last season with the Utah Grizzlies of the AHL, registering four goals and six assists in 73 games.

Terms of the deals were not disclosed.

Red Wings re-sign left wing Brendan Shanahan

DETROIT -- Left wing Brendan Shanahan re-signed with the Detroit Red Wings.

Shanahan, a 500-goal scorer and important contributor to Detroit's Stanley Cup wins in 1997, 1998 and 2002, signed for one year with a player option for an additional year.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Shanahan was the only Red Wings player to appear in all 82 games last season. The 35-year-old Ontario native scored his 550th career goal Jan. 3 against Anaheim. He led the club in penalty minutes with 117.

Detroit chose not to exercise the $6.5 million option on Shanahan's contract, making him an unrestricted free agent July 1, but left the possibility open that the forward could return if he agreed to play for less money.

Shanahan led the team in goals (37) and points (75) during the 2001-2002 season, his third consecutive year with more than 70 points. But his production dropped off during the next two seasons, falling to 30 goals and 68 points in 2002-2003, and 25 goals and 53 points last season.

In 18 NHL seasons, eight of them in Detroit, Shanahan has 558 goals and 593 assists, along with 2,273 penalty minutes.

Shanahan originally was acquired by Detroit from the Hartford Whalers on Oct. 9, 1996 along with Brian Glynn in exchange for Keith Primeau, Paul Coffey and a first-round pick.

The Red Wings have yet to resolve the futures of unrestricted free agents Brett Hull, Chris Chelios, Steve Yzerman and Mathieu Schneider, and it remains uncertain whether they will return to Detroit.

Hull, who will be 40 in August, and Chelios, 42, could choose to retire if the labor dispute between the NHL and the players' association results in the postponement or cancelation of the 2004-2005 season.

Avalanche re-sign Hinote, two other forwards

DENVER -- The Colorado Avalanche have signed three forwards, including Dan Hinote to a one-year deal worth $770,000.

Hinote became a restricted free agent July 1. He could have become an unrestricted free agent had the Avalanche not tendered him a 10 percent raise from the $700,000 he made last season.

Hinote has been with Colorado for five seasons.

Colorado also signed free agents Brett McLean and Andre Savage on Wednesday. McLean played his first full NHL season in 2003-04 with Chicago, finishing with 11 goals and 20 assists in 76 games.

Savage, who played in the American Hockey League last season, has played in 66 NHL games with Boston and Philadelphia.

Blackhawks sign Lightning free agent Jassen Cullimore

CHICAGO -- The Chicago Blackhawks signed former Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Jassen Cullimore to a multi-year contract.

Cullimore, a free agent, played in 79 games last season for the Stanley Cup champions, with two goals and five assists and 58 penalty minutes.

Injured in the first round of the playoffs, he returned to for the last game of the Eastern Conference finals and for all seven games of the final series with the Calgary Flames. In his 11 playoff games, he had two assists and six penalty minutes.

In 10 years in the NHL, Cullimore has played 524 games, scoring 19 goals and adding 47 assists.

"He is one of the biggest defensemen in the NHL. He is a solid veteran who logs a lot of minutes against the other team's top players," Blackhawks' assistant general manager Dale Tallon said in a statement.

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