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

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.

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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."

Tanya Fletcher/CBC
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.

Tanya Fletcher/CBC
Tanya Fletcher/CBC

"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.

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