Following the conclusion of an investigation into physical abuse allegations against Marc Crawford, the Chicago Blackhawks announced on Monday the assistant coach will remain suspended until Jan. 2, 2020.
"We do not condone his previous behavior," the team's statement read. "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."
The suspension arose following allegations by Sean Avery to the New York Post's Larry Brooks in late November, in which the former NHLer claimed Crawford kicked him while the two were employed by the Los Angeles Kings during the 2006-07 season. Avery stated that Crawford kicked him because Avery was responsible for a too many men penalty that resulted in the Kings giving up a goal.
An investigation began following the story's release and the Blackhawks officially suspended Crawford of his coaching duties.
In the same press release announcing the team's findings, Crawford offered his apologies.
"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," the former Kings, Colorado Avalanche, Vancouver Canucks, Dallas Stars and Ottawa Senators head coach wrote. "I offer my sincere apologies for my past behavior."
He added that he, "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."
Crawford, 58, noted that he has sought counseling over the last decade and has learned how to better manage his emotions. His reinstatement is "subject to his continued compliance with his contractual obligations and team expectations" and according to the release, he will continue his counseling.
A week ago, the NHL announced new policies and procedures requiring teams and their personnel to immediately report any inappropriate conduct to the league office — whether physical or verbal. The move comes following accusations levied against Crawford, former Calgary Flames head coach Bill Peters and former Toronto Maple Leafs head coach Mike Babcock.