Where do Hawks draw line on abuse allegations against coach Crawford?

                                                                                                                                                                                                   
  • Where do you draw the line? And is there a statute of limitations? Those are likely two of the questions the Chicago Blackhawks are asking themselves as they investigate physical abuse allegations made by three former players against assistant coach Marc Crawford

    Where do you draw the line? And is there a statute of limitations? Those are likely two of the questions the Chicago Blackhawks are asking themselves as they investigate physical abuse allegations made by three former players against assistant coach Marc Crawford Associated Press

 
 
Updated 12/4/2019 6:26 AM

Where do you draw the line? And is there a statute of limitations?

Those are likely two of the questions the Blackhawks are asking themselves as they investigate physical abuse allegations made by three former players against assistant coach Marc Crawford.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Crawford, who was placed on leave Monday, reportedly kicked Sean Avery during a game in 2006, had numerous run-ins with former Hawks defenseman Brent Sopel in the early 2000s, and kicked forward Patrick O'Sullivan.

Crawford is the latest NHL coach to come under fire for actions taken at least a decade ago.

Calgary coach Bill Peters resigned last week after he admitted to using a racial slur while addressing Akim Aliu in the Rockford IceHogs dressing room during the 2009-10 season.

Corey Crawford, Brandon Saad and Connor Murphy all agreed the Marc Crawford situation is a tough one.

"Obviously you don't want physical abuse or any kind of abuse," Crawford said after practice Tuesday. "But at the same point, where do you draw the line (when) you're a coach trying to get the best out of your guys? In a culture with (how) sports have been over a lot of years, it's hard to (go) back on a few things that maybe they shouldn't have done. …

"If they start looking at football coaches, I don't know -- most of 'em would probably be gone."

There's little doubt that coaching techniques in all sports and at all levels have changed drastically over the years.

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Take Olympic hockey coach Herb Brooks for example. In the movie "Miracle," which depicted the United States' incredible run to the 1980 gold medal, Brooks forced his players to skate for an hour AFTER THEY'D JUST PLAYED AN EXHIBITION GAME. Even after the rink manager turned off the lights, players continued to do "Herbies," a gut-wrenching conditioning drill.

Brooks also repeatedly berated players verbally.

Saad and Murphy aren't sure how far back leagues should go when it comes to how coaches dealt with their players.

"The past is the past really," Saad said. "That doesn't make things right, but at the same time you don't see that nowadays really.

"Coaches change. They change their techniques. What worked back then doesn't always work now. You see players and coaches evolving.

"I don't think it's something really to look back on."

Said Murphy: "Obviously there are things when people are being demeaned or they're being attacked on a personal level it's obviously not OK. … It's tough because where's the line with how far you go back? I don't know. That stuff kind of confuses me too. …

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

"But obviously you look at some of the situations and if it does completely cross the line of ethics and how you treat people, then yeah (something should be done)."

In addition to verbal abuse Sopel, who played for Crawford in Vancouver from 1998-2004 and the Blackhawks from 2007-10, accused Crawford of kicking and choking him. Avery said Crawford kicked him hard enough during a 2006 game that it left a mark on his buttocks.

Meanwhile, O'Sullivan, who played for Crawford from 2006-08 with the L.A. Kings, placed this message on the Blackhawks' Twitter page: "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."

Crawford was hired by the Hawks in the off-season after finishing up the 2018-19 campaign as Ottawa's interim coach.

"I've seen nothing but good things in the way he approaches the game, the way he helps guys develop," Saad said. "I can't really speak for his past, but I know him as a great guy and a great coach."

Murphy concurred, saying: "He's been awesome. It's been a great coach to have. He helps us out a lot and he's always just been a good person ever since I've talked to him."

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