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Blackhawks to investigate Marc Crawford after allegations of physical abuse

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The Chicago Blackhawks announced on Monday that they will be launching a review of assistant coach Marc Crawford based on “the recent allegations that have been made regarding his conduct with another organization.”

Per the team’s official Twitter account, Crawford — in his first season with the team — will not be with the organization while this review takes place. The Blackhawks will not comment any further on the matter until the review has been completed.

While the Blackhawks didn’t specify the conduct or organization in question, Sean Avery accused the 58-year-old Crawford of kicking him in a New York Post article by Larry Brooks published over the weekend. The alleged incident occurred while the two were with the Los Angeles Kings in the mid-2000s.

According to Brooks, Avery found the incident more bemusing than upsetting at the time.

As the story gained attention in the days following its release, Avery decided to clear things up in a video that he posted to his official Twitter account on Monday.

“Alright, I gotta set the record straight here. I’m getting a lot of nasty tweets,” the former NHL enforcer said. “Marc Crawford had every right in the world to kick me in the ass. He should have spanked my ass a little bit more. I deserved it. I loved ‘Crow’. He’s my second-favourite NHL coach. Fact.”

Less than two hours after Avery posted the clip, the Blackhawks announced the review of Crawford on Twitter. Avery responded to the news with a sentiment similar to that in his video.

While Avery’s story has grabbed recent headlines, it isn’t the only one to surface accusing Crawford of getting physical with his players.

In November of 2018, former NHLer Brent Sopel recounted his time with the Vancouver Canucks in the late 1990s while he was trying to break into the league and Crawford was the team’s head coach.

“He kicked me, he choked me, he grabbed the back of my jersey and pulled me back,” said Sopel on a episode of Spittin’ Chiclets — a popular hockey podcast featuring former NHLers Paul Bissonnette and Ryan Whitney — according to a transcript by Brian Fraser of News Talk 580 CFRA in Ottawa. “He attacked guys personally.”

Patrick O’Sullivan — who began his NHL career with the Kings during the 2006-07 season, the same campaign Crawford became the team’s head coach — also inferred his relationship with Crawford was far from positive in a tweet posted last week.

This review of Crawford is just the latest domino to fall in what has seemingly become a shift in hockey’s culture as players — past and present — have spoken out about the actions of their coaches. It was just over a week ago that the story of Mike Babcock putting a rookie Mitch Marner in a very difficult spot came to light. Since then, Bill Peters was fired by the Calgary Flames for racial comments he made to a player while coaching in the AHL and physical abuse of another while the head coach of the Carolina Hurricanes. Additionally, more damning allegations to do with Babcock have emerged.

Crawford has been an NHL head coach for parts of 16 seasons, a career that began when he took the helm of the Quebec Nordiques ahead of the 1994-95 season. He has won a combined 599 regular season and playoff games as an NHL head coach and led the Colorado Avalanche to a Stanley Cup in 1996.

Before joining the Blackhawks, Crawford finished the 2018-19 regular season as the interim head coach of the Ottawa Senators after the organization fired Guy Boucher at the beginning of March. He was the team’s associate coach for two-and-a-half seasons prior to that.

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