Then-Canucks head coach Marc Crawford in October 2005.
Then-Canucks head coach Marc Crawford yells at a referee during an April 2003 Stanley Cup playoff game in Vancouver against the visiting St. Louis Blues. Crawford could be volatile at times, both during games and apparently with some players.
Former NHLer from Shea Heights says he's 'loving the investigation' into his former coach with the Canucks
The Vancouver Canucks are keeping mum about Marc Crawford’s situation, but there’s no doubt that the current anti-coach bullying movement taking hold in hockey has arrived on the shores of False Creek.
And as the story that’s consuming the histories of multiple NHL head coaches slowly advances, another player is speaking out.
Former Canuck Harold Druken posted on Facebook Tuesday that he was pleased his former coach was being investigated by the Chicago Blackhawks over his past behaviour.
“I wouldn’t let Marc Crawford coach my dog!! Loving this investigation. Karma is a lovely thing,” he said in a post.
Druken, 40, played for the Canucks between 1999 and 2003, when Crawford was head coach of the Canucks.
He spoke later on Newfoundland TV , calling Crawford “hands down the worst human being I’ve ever met.”
He said Crawford was verbally and physically abusive, also made derogatory comments about Druken’s background.
“Being called a dumb Newfie or a stupid Newfie or he’s going to send me back on the boats in Newfoundland, that’s just as offensive to me as it is being called something that’s derogatory,” he told NTV. He said the coach would kick and hit him and would also verbally berate him in front of team management.
“He was absolutely ridiculous.”
The Chicago Blackhawks announced Monday that following allegations made in recent days by former players Sean Avery and Patrick O’Sullivan of physically and verbally abusive conduct towards them by Crawford while he coaching the Los Angeles Kings a decade ago — coupled with similar allegations made last year by former Canucks defenceman Brent Sopel — they were conducting a review of those allegations and that Crawford, who was hired by the team as an assistant coach over the summer, would be on leave while the review took place.
Crawford was head coach of the Canucks from 1999 to 2006. He had previously coached the Colorado Avalanche, winning the Stanley Cup in 1996, and later coached the Kings and the Dallas Stars. He also coached Zurich SC of the Swiss National League A from 2012 to 2016.
“We are aware of the Chicago Blackhawks‘ review of the recent allegations involving Marc Crawford. Though few personnel remain from that era of Canucks history, we will certainly participate with the Blackhawks and/or the NHL should they request our assistance,” the Canucks said in a statement Tuesday.
While there are only three players speaking out publicly at the moment, it is believed there are other players of prominence who may speak behind closed doors.
Sopel, who played for Crawford in Vancouver from 1999 to 2004 and again for the first half of the 2006-07 season in Los Angeles, spoke of his treatment in an appearance on the Spitting Chiclets podcast last year.
The former NHL defenceman said that Crawford — nicknamed “Crow” — had, along with questioning his abilities as a hockey player, called him a “pussy.”
But he also acknowledged that Crawford had played a big part in his career.
“Crow and I had a love-hate relationship,” he said. “He came after me all the time.”
Sopel said he had been kicked and choked by Crawford, that the coach would grab the back of his jersey while he was sitting on the bench and would pull him back.
“For whatever reason, he kept putting me out there. I probably played close to 500 games of my career for him, so as much as I hated him, for whatever reason, there was something he liked about me.”
Avery told the New York Post’s Larry Brooks on the weekend that Crawford had kicked him in the behind because of a too-many-men penalty the winger took during the 2006-07 season, the first of two seasons that Crawford served as head coach of the Kings.
Avery, who has never been known for saying things just to keep friends, took to Twitter on Monday to further comment on the anecdote. Crawford, he said, was his second-favourite coach from his NHL career.
“(He) had every right in the world to kick me,” said Avery.
O’Sullivan, on the other hand, had nothing positive to say about his time playing for Crawford in Los Angeles.
“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,” he tweeted Monday.
Crawford was O’Sullivan’s first NHL coach.
Last week he referred to Crawford’s behaviour towards him in light of the abuse O’Sullivan suffered as a child at the hands of his father.
“Abuse of power has no place in hockey or in anything else. As someone who went through awful things with my first NHL coach who knew my abuse back ground as a child I hope they all get what’s coming to them and I hope it happens fast,” he tweeted last week.
O’Sullivan’s book, Breaking Away, was published in 2015 and he dealt quite a bit with his relationship with Crawford. The veteran coach, he was told by his older teammates, always picked younger players to ride on during the season. He said the abuse stopped before his second season.
Crawford himself spoke of his past last spring when he was in Vancouver, coaching the Ottawa Senators in a late-season tilt. He was serving as the interim bench boss of the Sens, closing out the year after Guy Boucher had been fired.
While he wasn’t asked directly about the months-old Sopel interview or the years-old O’Sullivan allegations, he did suggest he had learned that he couldn’t speak like he used to.
“NHL referees are very much like NHL players now, growing up, they’ve not been yelled at. And I’ve certainly have had to change that part of the game. There used to be a lot of banter back and forth. Guys would give it back to you as hard as you would give it to them. I can’t say I really miss that because I probably lost my marbles a bit too much in that regard during my career and if you’re not sure, just go on Youtube, you can see me,” he said last March.
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