NHL

Blackhawks extend Marc Crawford's suspension into 2020, coach apologizes for 'unacceptable behaviour'

The Chicago Blackhawks announced assistant coach Marc Crawford's suspension will extend through Jan. 2., 2020 on Monday.

Chicago assistant will resume full bench duties on Jan. 2

Chicago Blackhawks assistant coach Marc Crawford was suspended through Jan. 2, 2020, after the team concluded its investigation into his past behaviour, which included allegations of physical abuse from former players. (Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press via AP)

The Chicago Blackhawks announced assistant coach Marc Crawford's suspension will extend through Jan. 2., 2020 on Monday.

Crawford was put on leave by the team two weeks ago after allegations of physical abuse from former players such as Sean Avery and Brent Sopel surfaced in the media. He will resume his full duties as assistant coach once the suspension is over.

The Blackhawks said in a statement that a thorough review was conducted alongside independent legal counsel, and that Crawford's prior behaviour was not condoned by the team.

"Through our review, we confirmed that Marc proactively sought professional counselling to work to improve and become a better communicator, person and coach. We learned that Marc began counselling in 2010 and he has continued therapy on a regular basis since. We believe that Marc has learned from his past actions and has committed to striving to reform himself and evolve personally and professionally over the last decade."

The Blackhawks added that they found no such incidents had occurred with Crawford since he joined the team.

Crawford, in a statement, apologized for the past incidents and confirmed that he had "regularly engaged in counselling over the last decade where I have faced how traumatic my behaviour was towards others."

"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," Crawford said. 

"As I deeply regret this behaviour, I have worked hard over the last decade to improve both myself and my coaching style."

'I am and will continue to be a part of the solution'

Avery said Crawford kicked him after he was whistled for a too-many-men-on-the-ice penalty when he played for Crawford with the Los Angeles Kings during the 2006-07 season. Sopel said Crawford kicked him, choked him and grabbed the back of his jersey and pulled it back while with Vancouver.

The issues with Crawford emerged after Calgary Flames coach Bill Peters resigned following accusations he directed racial slurs at a Nigerian-born player with one of Chicago's minor league teams a decade ago. Others claimed Peters kicked and punched players behind the bench during his recent time with Carolina.

The 58-year-old Crawford joined head coach Jeremy Colliton's staff in June. Crawford was the interim head coach for Ottawa at the end of last season. He also has served as the head coach for Colorado, Vancouver, Los Angeles and Dallas, leading the Avalanche to the Stanley Cup title in 1996.

Crawford said he wants to make the game better and encourages anyone impacted by him to reach out to him.

"There is an important discussion happening in hockey right now," Crawford said. "I am and will continue to be a part of the solution moving forward. These conversations will set the course for future generations. I commit to being sensitive to the process, and most of all, listening to individual perspectives and feelings."

With files from The Associated Press

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