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Marc Crawford voices regret for past behaviour as he returns to NHL coaching

Chicago Blackhawks assistant coach Marc Crawford says he is sorry for the abuse he once inflicted on players as his one-month suspension ended in Vancouver.

Chicago Blackhawks assistant's 1-month suspension ends Thursday in Vancouver

Marc Crawford, assistant coach of the Chicago Blackhawks, returns to active duty in Vancouver after being put on leave by the club one month ago. (Tanya Fletcher/CBC)

Marc Crawford returned to the ice and his job as a Chicago Blackhawks assistant coach Thursday to a chorus of stick taps at the team's morning skate in Vancouver.

"It was great to be out with the guys," said the 58-year-old. "It was a nice reception." 

Crawford was put on leave by the team one month ago after stories about him physically abusing players during previous coaching jobs surfaced.

Former Vancouver Canuck Brent Sopel told a hockey podcast last year that Crawford had kicked, choked and grabbed him. Crawford was Canucks head coach from 1999 to 2006.

And last month, former NHLer Sean Avery said Crawford had kicked him during a game in 2006 when both were with the LA Kings.

Crawford issued an apology last month and repeated it Thursday. 

"It's really about me, it's about some of the things that I did wrong with some of the teams and some the players I've had during my career. And for that I'm very sorry. I wish those things didn't happen."

Crawford participates in the Blackhawks' morning skate Thursday. 'It's really about me ... things that I did wrong. ... And for that I'm very sorry,' he said. (Tanya Fletcher/CBC)

Crawford was hired by Chicago in June, making it his sixth NHL club in a 30-year coaching career. 

Earlier, the Blackhawks said Crawford has been in counselling on a regular basis since 2010.

Blackhawks captain Jonathon Toews said the team was happy to have him back.

"He's definitely a presence we've missed," said the forward. "He's been good with the young guys and with the more experienced players like myself — just saying the right things at the right times."

Canucks analyst Corey Hirsch said the important part about the story is that an effort is being made to address the behaviour.

Crawford was suspended through Thursday after the Blackhawks investigated his past behaviour, which included allegations of physical abuse from former players. (Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press via AP)

"I believe everyone deserves a second chance, so as long as he's gone to get the help he needs, I'm sure he's a much better person now than he was back then," said Hirsch.

Crawford said he understands now that his behaviour "crossed the line."

"We talk a lot about reading and reacting as a coach. My natural tendency was to react and then read. And those are some of the struggles that I've had to deal with in my time," he said.

The Canucks host the Blackhawks at 7 p.m. PT.

With files from Tanya Fletcher

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