Sean Avery

Marc Crawford on leave from Blackhawks following Sean Avery’s allegations

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The Chicago Blackhawks announced that assistant coach Marc Crawford “will be away from the team” while they investigate “recent allegations that have been made regarding his conduct with another organization.”

To cut through the legalese that’s becoming common as stories of abuse have surfaced (or resurfaced) over the past few weeks, the Blackhawks are referring to Sean Avery’s claims that Crawford kicked him during a Dec. 23, 2006 game stemming from their time with the Los Angeles Kings.

Avery’s details were pretty vivid to the New York Post’s Larry Brooks.

Avery explained that he messed up a drill during a practice, and his errant puck caught Crawford on the head, forcing Crawford to get stitches. Brooks asked Avery if Crawford then kicked Avery because of the mistake during the drill, but Avery said that it was because of a penalty:

“No, he kicked me after a too-many-men-on-the-ice call I took,” Avery said. “He didn’t have me serve it, we got scored on, and he let me have it.”

“You know how I stand at the end of the bench? He came down and gave me an ass kick that left a mark.”

If you’re familiar with Avery’s career as a profound pest, you’d probably not be too surprised that he believes that the rump-kicking wasn’t what got Avery traded out of town. Instead, Avery stated that he nearly got in a scuffle with an assistant named Mark Hardy.

(The candidness is really worth a read.)

Anyway, Avery’s claims surfaced from Brooks on Nov. 30, and the Blackhawks made this move on Monday (Dec. 2).

Here are the two tweets, again heavy on careful wording:

Allegations surfacing from around the NHL, and hockey world in general

To recap, reports of Mike Babcock asking Mitch Marner to put together a list of the Maple Leafs’ most and least hard-working young players inspired others to share their own experiences.

Akim Aliu spoke up about racist remarks made by Bill Peters about a decade ago, when the two were part of a Blackhawks affiliate team, the Rockford IceHogs. Following Aliu’s tweets, Michal Jordan also accused Peters of being physically abusive during their time with the Carolina Hurricanes (claims that were backed up by others, including Rod Brind’Amour). The Flames eventually parted ways with Peters after he offered a carefully worded statement, a statement that was criticized by many, Aliu included.

There’s been a back-and-forth between former Hurricanes owner Peter Karamanos and former Hurricanes GM Ron Francis stemming from how allegations of Peters’ abuse was handled.

Additional details regarding Babcock’s treatment of players have also come about, including troubling details about how Babcock allegedly treated Johan Franzen, both from Franzen and from Chris Chelios.

Former NHL player Daniel Carcillo has also gone into (sometimes graphic) detail about allegations of abuse in the hockey world.

Crawford, then, is another person in a position of power who is being accused of abusive behavior.

***

Will this series of accusations (which isn’t comprehensive, and may just be the beginning) result in big changes for the culture around the sport, overall?

Some, such as The Athletic’s Eric Duhatschek, believe that this is the start of a “reckoning.” Others, including Jashvina Shah for The Globe & Mail, believe that hockey culture will never change.

Whatever the larger impact might or might not be, we know that Peters is out as Flames head coach, and Crawford is at least on temporary leave from the Blackhawks.

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

Capitals’ Hathaway suspended three games for spitting on Gudbranson

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The NHL announced that Washington Capitals forward Garnet Hathaway has been suspended for three games thanks to his “spitting incident” involving Anaheim Ducks defenseman Erik Gudbranson. The punishment was delivered by the league’s Hockey Operations department, not the Department of Player Safety.

It happened during the end of a pretty wild brawl between the Capitals and Ducks, leading to Hathaway being ejected. For what it’s worth, Hathaway said that he regretted spitting at Gudbranson after the game.

“Unfortunately, spit came out of my mouth after I got sucker punched and it went onto him,” Hathaway said. “It has no place. It was an emotional play by me. You don’t plan any of that stuff in your head, and it was a quick reaction and unfortunately the wrong one for me to a sucker punch.”

The Capitals face the Rangers on Wednesday, the Canucks on Saturday, and then the Panthers next Wednesday (Nov. 27) so Hathaway will not be eligible to return until a Nov. 29 home game against the Lightning. Here’s video of the incident:

Gudbranson might feel like the punishment is just.

“That’s about as low as you dig a pit, really,” Gudbranson said. “It’s a bad thing to do. It’s something you just don’t do in a game, and he did it.”

Do you agree with the three-game suspension? If not, what would be an appropriate punishment? It’s certainly tough to shake the notion that Milan Lucic‘s “sucker-punch” drew less of a suspension (two games) than spitting, especially when other after-the-whistle stuff like licking often goes virtually unpunished … but three games it is for Hathaway.

Being that it’s a shorter suspension, it doesn’t sound like Hathaway has a ton of recourse here, although maybe he can try to get some of the $24,193.53 back if he appealed?

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

PHT Morning Skate: Miracle on Grass?

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PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.

A collection of fantastic little Tweets from @LordStanley should start your morning off with a chuckle or three. (BarDown)

We’ve frequently seen minor league hockey teams come out with some great promotions revolving around jersey gimmicks, yet the MiLB’s Rochester Red Wings are really outdoing themselves by commemorating the “Miracle on Ice.” Was Miracle on Grass the right call, or should the headline have been Miracle on a Baseball Diamond? (Rochester Red Wings via The Hockey News)

How the Philadelphia Flyers are coping with salary cap “jail.” (Sportsnet)

Sean Avery with a fascinating take on (his) life after hockey. (The Players’ Tribune)

If you’ve seen the great 30 for 30 documentary “Big Shot,” you get the impression that John Spano Jr. – the guy who served hard time for trying to swindle the NHL and New York Islanders – might have a shaky future. He was sentenced to 10 years in prison for grand theft and forgery related to a job he took after the fiasco with the Islanders. (The News-Herald)

Sean Avery’s new career is rather luxurious

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When last season ended for Sean Avery, it came rather quickly after being banished to the AHL by the New York Rangers. Now that he’s in quasi-retirement, he seems to have transitioned quickly to his new career as an… Ad executive? You bet.

Stuart Elliott of The New York Times reports on Avery’s leap into the luxurious world of Madison Avenue where he’s working with the Lipman agency. For Avery, going from the routine of being a professional hockey player to that of a man helping to build brands has created quite the change.

“For 15 years I had the same day,” he recalled. “I would wake up, eat, practice, work out, eat and sleep, then I would go and play. So now, an eight- or nine-hour day in the office, I can’t do it.”

That won’t earn a lot of sympathy from anyone working a regular job, that’s for sure, but the compliments being served up to Avery from those in his new industry (“lover of business” “he’s a connector” “lover of luxury market”) would make you wonder if this is the same guy who tortured opponents on the ice during his 10-year career.

Sean Avery won’t test free agency, still plans to retire

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Looks like throwing his skates in the Hudson River will be Sean Avery’s last hockey-related act.

According to Katie Strang of ESPN, the ex-Rangers forward won’t try to sign with a team come July 1 and still plans on retiring. Avery told Strang he has “no interest” in testing the free agent market which, I would assume, is roughly the same level of interest teams had in Avery.

The 32-year-old torched whatever was left of his relationship with the Rangers via a series of antics in AHL Connecticut. He last played on Jan. 27 and, after being a healthy scratch for 15 straight games, was sent home on Mar. 5.

Avery then appeared on Bravo TV’s Watch What Happens Live and said “I am officially retired — I threw my skates in the Hudson.”

Avery’s agent, Pat Morris, said his client’s comments were “not serious” and he hadn’t given up on his career. Shortly thereafter, it was learned Avery refused to sign retirement papers sent to him by Rangers GM Glen Sather.

But now it appears one of the most controversial figures in league history has called it a day.

If it is indeed the end, Avery will finish with 247 points in 580 career games — with 1533 penalty minutes.