Former NHL head coach Marc Crawford is making headlines again for all the wrong reasons. (Getty)
Marc Crawford has a history of controversy. In 2019, he faced allegations from NHL players regarding physical and verbal abuse. Now, former NHL and AHL Coach of the Year and Stanley Cup winner Crawford is back in hot water after making homophobic remarks at a referee.
The incident, which was captured on television, occurred this week as Crawford coached National League ZSC Lions against EHC Biel in Switzerland.
In the closing seconds of the match, Crawford started yelling at Finnish referee Mikko Kaukokari to check his watch as his ZSC Lions were trailing. His rant quickly turned homophobic when he called Kaukokari an insult.
It’s the same homophobic slur that former NHLer Ryan Getzlaf was punished for directing an official during a 2017 game, earning him a $10,000 fine from the league. As Outsports, a major LGBTQ+ sports network, stated at the time, the slur “is very specifically anti-gay and sexist, and there’s no way to explain it. It says, very specifically, ‘Give men oral sex , so they’re bad.'”
Crawford was hired to replace Rikard Grönborg as head coach of ZSC Lions on 28 December 2022. Now less than two months into his tenure, Crawford is facing an investigation into his actions.
Just a few seasons ago, Crawford made headlines when former NHL players Brent Sopel, Patrick O’Sullivan, Sean Avery and Harold Druken spoke about the physical and verbal abuse they had experienced and witnessed at Crawford’s hands. Sopel stated that Crawford “kicked me, choked me, grabbed the back of my jersey and pulled it back”.
In his book, Breaking Away: A Harrowing True Story of Resilience, Courage, and Triumph, published in 2015, Patrick O’Sullivan outlined Crawford’s habit of kicking him and other players to the bench. Sean Avery also claimed Crawford had kicked him.
Druken, who played for Crawford between 1999 and 2003 with the Vancouver Canucks, also said he was ejected to the bench and said Crawford would call his name. “Being called a stupid Newfie or a stupid Newfie or he’s going to send me back on boats to Newfoundland, is as offensive to me as anything is called derogatory,” Druken said in 2019.
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During his tenure with the Canucks, Crawford – along with player Todd Bertuzzi and the Canucks organization – was named a defendant in a lawsuit by Colorado Avalanche player Steve Moore, who suffered three broken vertebrae and a broken jaw after Bertuzzi attacked Moore from behind on the ice. At the time, Crawford was heavily criticized by Avalanche players for allegedly laughing at the time of the incident.
“The worst thing is their coach is over there laughing and it just shows that guy’s class,” Avalanche defensive back Derek Morris said of Crawford in 2004. Seeking $68 million in damages, the lawsuit settled in 2014 with all parties agreeing to a confidential settlement.
Now, Crawford is facing new allegations and a subsequent investigation, which has been launched into his actions after National League director Denis Vaucher said he saw and heard Crawford’s “discriminatory remarks” on television.
Crawford, who also coached the ZSC Lions from 2012 to 2016, was head coach of five NHL franchises including the Quebec Nordiques/Colorado Avalanche, Vancouver Canucks, Los Angeles Kings, Dallas Stars and Ottawa Senators. Last season Crawford was an associate coach of the Chicago Blackhawks.
The ZSC Lions are currently third overall in the National League standings.
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