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Blackhawks announce completion of review of Marc Crawford, assistant coach can return in January

The Blackhawks said they do not condone Crawford's actions, but stated he has been engaged in professional counselling for the past decade and "learned from his past actions and has committed to striving to reform himself and evolve personally and professionally."

Following a thorough review of allegations levelled against assistant coach Marc Crawford, the Chicago Blackhawks have announced that the veteran coach will remain suspended through the end of the year. He will be eligible to return to his post on Jan. 2, 2020.

In a statement released Monday, two weeks to the day after the Blackhawks announced they would be investigating allegations of misconduct by Crawford during his past coaching stops, the team acknowledged that they do not condone Crawford’s past behavior, but stated they believe, “Marc has learned from his past actions and has committed to striving to reform himself and evolve personally and professionally over the last decade.” Crawford began professional counselling in 2010 and has continued “on a regular basis since,” according to the Blackhawks.

The investigation into Crawford’s past actions, which included discussions with former players, executives and coaching colleagues of the Blackhawks assistant coach, came days after former NHL winger Sean Avery made comments regarding an incident involving Crawford during the 2006-07 season. Avery said that during his time with the Los Angeles Kings, then-coach Crawford gave him “an a— kick that left a mark” following a penalty the winger took that resulted in a goal against.

Following Avery’s comments, another incident involving Crawford and former NHL defenseman Brent Sopel came to light. Speaking on an episode of the Spittin’ Chiclets podcast, which resurfaced following the Avery allegations, Sopel alleged he was kicked, choked and attacked verbally by Crawford.

In the team’s release, Crawford made a personal statement in which he took full responsibility for his actions, commended the strength of Avery and Sopel, as well as former NHLers Harold Druken and Patrick O'Sullivan, and offered, “sincere apologies for (his) 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,” Crawford said in the statement. “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.”

Crawford said he has faced “how traumatic (his) behavior was towards others,” all the while working to find new ways to express himself and manage his emotions through counselling.

“Moving forward, I will continue to improve myself, to listen to those that I may have hurt, and learn from their experiences,” Crawford said. “My goal is to approach all players, past and present, with empathy and understanding. My hope, as a coach and a person, is to create environments of dignity and respect.”

The Blackhawks stated that Crawford’s continued presence behind the bench following his return will be “subject to his continued compliance with his contractual obligations and team expectations.” Crawford will also continue to receive counselling.

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