Former NHLer Brent Sopel releases statement on Marc Crawford

Marc Crawford, right, waits to be introduced as the new head coach of the Los Angeles Kings in 2006. (Ric Francis/AP)

Former NHLer Brent Sopel released a statement on Thursday about Chicago Blackhawks assistant coach Marc Crawford, whose past conduct with other organizations is being investigated by the Blackhawks.

The statement aims to clarify a story Sopel told during a November 2018 appearance on the Spittin’ Chiclets podcast during which he described encounters with Crawford that could be interpreted as abusive.

“It was not my intent to make any allegations against anyone or any organization,” Sopel said as part of his statement, which he released on Twitter. “I was only speaking to how Coach Crawford affected me. I cannot speak for how others were affected by him.”

“I recognize and respect that different coaching tactics affect people in different ways,” Sopel continued in his statement. “Just as I prefer others not speak on my behalf about my life experiences, I will not comment on Coach Crawford’s impact on other players. Those are not my stories to tell.”

During the Spittin’ Chiclets podcast in question, Sopel said that Crawford “kicked me, he choked me, he grabbed the back of my jersey and just pulling it back,” during his time playing for Crawford with the Vancouver Canucks.

Sopel’s stories weren’t the only ones to emerge about Crawford.

Ex-NHL forward Sean Avery recently told the New York Post that Crawford kicked him for taking a too-many-men-on-the-ice penalty during his time with the Los Angeles Kings in 2006-07, hard enough to leave a mark, but later also said the coach provided an opportunity for him “to become a better player and teammate.”

Another former player, Patrick O’Sullivan, also spoke up.

The Blackhawks announced on Monday that Crawford, who joined head coach Jeremy Colliton’s staff as an assistant in June, will be absent from the team as it reviews his conduct.

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