The Blackhawks will conduct an investigation on recent physical abuse allegations made by multiple former NHL players against assistant coach Marc Crawford, the team announced Monday night. Crawford will be “away from the team during this time and the organization will have no further comment until completion of the review.”
Sean Avery told the New York Post on Sunday that Crawford kicked him during an NHL game during the 2006-07 season. At the time, Crawford was the head coach of the Kings and Avery was a forward on the team.
Avery said the alleged incident occurred after he took a too-many-men-on-the-ice call in a 7-0 loss to the Predators on Dec. 23, 2006.
“He didn’t have me serve it, we got scored on, and he let me have it,” Avery said. “You know how I stand at the end of the bench? He came down and gave me a kick (in the behind) that left a mark.”
Avery added the kick followed a practice incident when he dumped the puck into a corner and it landed on Crawford’s head, causing the head coach to receive six stitches.
That allegation caused an interview with former Blackhawks defenseman Brent Sopel on the “Spittin’ Chiclets” podcast in November 2018 to resurface. Sopel said Crawford “kicked me, choked me, he grabbed the back of my jersey and pulled me back. He attacked guys personally,” during his time with the Canucks in 1999.
Former NHL player Patrick O’Sullivan, who debuted for the Kings in 2006-07 under Crawford, also tweeted last week he “went through awful things with my first NHL coach, who knew my abuse background as a child.”
Abuse of power has no place in hockey or in anything else. As someone who went through awful things with my first NHL coach who knew my abuse back ground as a child I hope they all get what’s coming to them and I hope it happens fast.— Patrick O'Sullivan (@realPOSULLIVAN) November 28, 2019
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
The Blackhawks hired Crawford in June as the team’s third assistant coach to Jeremy Colliton’s staff. The 58-year-old Crawford most recently served as the interim head coach for the Senators and associated head coach for three seasons. Crawford won the Stanley Cup in 1996 with the Avalanche and holds a 556-431-182 all-time NHL head coaching record.
Crawford’s son, Dylan, is the Blackhawks assistant video coach.