Assistant coach Marc Crawford has been away from the Chicago Blackhawks since Dec. 2 as the team investigated incidents of player abuse during his previous NHL coaching stops.
The team announced on Monday evening that Crawford will remain suspended through Jan. 2 following the investigation, and will then return to the team’s bench.
Crawford and the team both released statements. Those statements address the incidents, the investigation, the suspension, and the steps Crawford has taken.
The Blackhawks said they do not condone his previous behavior, and during their review confirmed that Crawford proactively sought counseling in an effort to improve.
He began the counseling in 2010 and has continued to go through on a regular basis.
Crawford issued a few more in-depth statement. Here is an excerpt.
Recently, allegations have resurfaced about my conduct earlier in my coaching career. Players like Sean Avery, Harold Druken, Patrick O’Sullivan and Brent Sopel have had the strength to publicly come forward and I am deeply sorry for hurting them. I offer my sincere apologies for my past behavior.
I got into coaching to help people, and to think that my actions in any way caused harm to even one player fills me with tremendous regret and disappointment in myself. I used unacceptable language and conduct toward players in hopes of motivating them, and, sometimes went too far. As I deeply regret this behavior, I have worked hard over the last decade to improve both myself and my coaching style.
I have made sincere efforts to address my inappropriate conduct with the individuals involved as well as the team at large. I have regularly engaged in counseling over the last decade where I have faced how traumatic my behavior was towards others. I learned new ways of expressing and managing my emotions. I take full responsibility for my actions.
Just before Crawford stepped away from the Blackhawks, former NHL player Sean Avery told the New York Post that Crawford had kicked him back in 2006 when they were with the Los Angeles Kings. Several other players that played under Crawford also came forward with stories, including Harold Druken, Patrick O’Sullivan, and Brent Sopel.
Druken called Crawford “hands down the worst human being I’ve ever met” for his verbal and physical abuse that included derogatory comments about Druken’s background.
O’Sullivan had also shared similar stories about Crawford’s coaching tactics.
I talked about his physical abuse in my book 4 years ago kicking me and others on the bench. Verbal abuse included homophobic slurs on a regular basis. I look forward to participating in your investigation. https://t.co/Grl8brdTan
— Patrick O'Sullivan (@realPOSULLIVAN) December 3, 2019
Other incidents around the league
• The stories regarding Crawford started to resurface following Bill Peters’ exit from the Calgary Flames.
Peters resigned from the Flames after it was revealed he used a racial slur against former player Akim Aliu when he was head coach of the AHL’s Rockford IceHogs. That was followed by defenseman Michal Jordan detailing how Peters had punched and kicked players on the Hurricanes’ bench, a claim that was backed up by then-assistant coach Rod Brind’Amour.
• Shortly after Mike Babcock was fired by the Toronto Maple Leafs, a story surfaced detailing how he made then-rookie Mitch Marner rank his teammates from hardest working to least hardest working, and then informed the players at the bottom of the list of Marner’s ranking.