CHICAGO -- Marc Crawford will return to the Chicago Blackhawks as an assistant on Jan. 2, 2020 after they concluded their investigation into allegations of misconduct in previous coaching positions, the Blackhawks announced on Monday.
Crawford has been absent from the team since Dec. 2. On Nov. 30, former NHL forward Sean Avery told the New York Post that Crawford kicked him while he was playing for the Los Angeles Kings during a 7-0 loss to the Nashville Predators on Dec. 23, 2006, after Avery was responsible for a too many men penalty. On Nov. 27, former NHL forward Patrick O'Sullivan posted to Twitter that he "went through awful things with my first NHL coach." Though he did not name Crawford in the tweet, O'Sullivan was a rookie with the Kings in 2006-07.
"We do not condone his previous behavior," the Blackhawks said in a statement. "Through our review, we confirmed that Marc proactively sought professional counseling to work to improve and become a better communicator, person and coach. We learned that Marc began counseling 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. We have experienced no incidents during Marc's coaching tenure with the Chicago Blackhawks.
"We have determined that Marc will remain suspended from team activities until January 2, 2020, at which time he will resume his assistant coaching duties, subject to his continued compliance with his contractual obligations and team expectations. In addition, he will continue with his counseling moving forward. We will have no further comment."
Crawford was hired before this season as an assistant for the Blackhawks. He has previously been coach for the Colorado Avalanche, Vancouver Canucks, the Kings, Ottawa Senators and Dallas Stars.
Crawford said in a statement, "Recently, allegations have resurfaced about my conduct earlier in my coaching career. Players like Sean Avery, Harold Druken, Patrick O'Sullivan and Brent Sopel have had the strength to publicly come forward and I am deeply sorry for hurting them. I offer my sincere apologies for my past behavior.
"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. As I deeply regret this behavior, I have worked hard over the last decade to improve both myself and my coaching style.
"I have made sincere efforts to address my inappropriate conduct with the individuals involved as well as the team at large. I have regularly engaged in counseling over the last decade where I have faced how traumatic my behavior was towards others. I learned new ways of expressing and managing my emotions. I take full responsibility for my actions. Moving forward, I will continue to improve myself, to listen to those that I may have hurt, and learn from their experiences. My goal is to approach all players, past and present, with empathy and understanding. My hope, as a coach and a person, is to create environments of dignity and respect.
"I sincerely want to help make our game better for everyone. I want to encourage anyone who may have been impacted by me to reach out so that we may continue this dialogue. There is an important discussion happening in hockey right now. 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."