Blackhawks’ Zack Smith doesn’t want Marc Crawford made ‘an example’ of


NEWARK, N.J.—Nobody on the Blackhawks has spent more time around embattled assistant coach Marc Crawford than Zack Smith.

The two spent three seasons together with the Ottawa Senators before joining the Hawks last summer. Crawford — who is on leave while the Hawks investigate allegations he physically and verbally abused former players with other teams — was an assistant coach and interim head coach in Ottawa, and Smith was a player.

While Smith said Crawford could be “intense” and sometimes yelled, he said he didn’t experience anything during their time together that resembled the allegations made by former NHL players Sean Avery, Brent Sopel and Patrick O’Sullivan.

“I’ve really enjoyed playing for Marc over my career,” Smith said. “I haven’t seen issues and I haven’t had issues with him. He’s been a great coach. He’s an intense guy and he wants to get the most out of guys. Sometimes he yells, but that’s part of it.

“I might be a little old school in that thinking, but I don’t think there’s anything wrong with a coach that yells.”

The allegations against Crawford aren’t just that he yelled. In a recent interview with the New York Post, Avery said Crawford kicked him so hard it left a mark when they were with the Kings. Sopel alleged during a podcast last year that Crawford “kicked me, he choked me” while both were with the Canucks.

O’Sullivan wrote in a 2016 autobiography that Crawford was verbally and physically abusive toward him and others — allegedly using homophobic slurs — while they were with the Kings.

Smith was unequivocal that he wants Crawford to return to the Hawks and indicated the rest of the team feels the same way.

“I think everyone’s on the same page with that,” Smith said. “I don’t want to speak for everyone, but for myself, hopefully this gets resolved. Hopefully it’s not just making an example out of someone. That would be very unfortunate.”

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