CHICAGO — The Blackhawks aren’t talking while they review allegations made against assistant coach Marc Crawford that he was physically abusive toward former player Sean Avery while both were with the Kings.

Crawford, who was placed on leave by the Hawks before Monday night’s game against the Blues, isn’t available for interviews. But Avery is talking, and he’s coming out in support of Crawford.

In a recent interview with the New York Post, Avery said Crawford kicked him so hard in the rear that it left a mark.

On Monday night, Avery shared a video on Twitter in which he said Crawford was his “second-favorite NHL coach” and that he had “every right in the world to kick me in the ass. He should have spanked my ass a little bit more. I deserved it. I loved Crow.”

Crawford won a Stanley Cup with the Avalanche in 1996 and also served as head coach of the Canucks, Kings, Stars and Senators over a coaching career that began in 1994 when he was 33.

Two other NHL players beside Avery have shared allegations that Crawford abused them physically.

Avery said Crawford kicked him after taking a penalty for too many men on the ice.

“You know how I stand at the end of the bench? He came down and gave me an ass kick that left a mark,” Avery said.

Former Hawk Brent Sopel alleged during a podcast last year that Crawford “kicked me, he choked me, he grabbed the back of my jersey and just pulling it back.” Crawford coached Sopel while both were with the Canucks.

FOOTBALL

Panthers fire Ron Rivera

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The Carolina Panthers have fired coach Ron Rivera with four games left in the NFL season.

Secondary coach Perry Fewell was been named interim head coach today. Offensive coordinator Norv Turner will transition to special assistant to the head coach, and quarterbacks coach Scott Turner will serve as offensive coordinator.

Panthers owner David Tepper said in a statement that “I believe this is the best decision for the long-term success of our team. I have a great deal of respect for Ron and the contributions he has made to this franchise and to this community.”

Tepper will begin a search for a new coach immediately.

Browns release DE Chris Smith

CLEVELAND — The Cleveland Browns on Tuesday released defensive end Chris Smith, whose girlfriend was killed in a roadside accident earlier this season.

Smith spent the past two seasons with Cleveland. He did not play in Sunday’s loss at Pittsburgh despite the Browns being short-handed on the defensive line with Myles Garrett out due to an indefinite suspension.

Smith’s girlfriend, Petara Cordero, was struck and killed by a car on Sept. 11 while standing on the side of a highway after Smith’s car had swerved and crashed.

Dolphins place Ballage on IR

MIAMI — Running back Kalen Ballage’s historically unproductive season ended Tuesday when he was placed on injured reserve by the Miami Dolphins. Ballage hurt his left leg in Sunday’s victory over Philadelphia.

The Dolphins were awarded running back Zach Zenner off waivers from Arizona and receiver Trevor Davis off waivers from Oakland. They waived safety Montre Hartage.

Titans claim Brock, waive Grasu

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The Tennessee Titans have claimed cornerback Tramaine Brock off waivers from the Arizona Cardinals and have waived center Hroniss Grasu.

Adding Brock should boost the depth of a Titans secondary that has been hit hard by injuries.

Cornerback Adoree Jackson hurt his leg in a 31-17 victory over the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday. Cornerback LeShaun Sims missed the Colts game with an ankle injury.

Schiano returns to Rutgers

NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. — After an on-again, off-again courtship, Greg Schiano is back as Rutgers football coach.

The university’s Board of Governors on Tuesday approved an eight-year, $32 million contract to bring back the former Scarlet Knights coach to lead the downtrodden program that has lost 21 straight Big Ten Conference games and won seven others over the last three seasons. The 53-year-old Schiano will be introduced at a news conference today.

Young named Big Ten defensive MVP

ROSEMONT, Ill. — Ohio State defensive end Chase Young has been selected as the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year.

No. 2 Ohio State boasts the country’s No. 1 defense, with Young leading the way. The junior has a school-record 16½ sacks — the most by a Big Ten player in 21 years — and 30½ in three seasons. Young was also named Defensive Lineman of the Year.

Ohio State coach Ryan Day was chosen Coach of the Year by media, while Minnesota’s P.J. Fleck was picked by the Big Ten’s coaches in voting announced Tuesday by the conference.

BASEBALL

Athletics sign Diekman for 2 years

OAKLAND, Calif. — Left-handed reliever Jake Diekman reached agreement on a $7.5 million, two-year contract with the Oakland Athletics after joining the club in a trade from Kansas City before last July’s deadline.

Oakland also announced Tuesday that it reached minor league agreements with right-hander Jordan Weems and outfielder Dillon Thomas.

OLYMPICS

Refugee team to get more prominent parade position for Tokyo 2020 Games

LAUSANNE, Switzerland — The refugee Olympic team will take more prominent places in the athlete parade at the opening ceremony for the 2020 Tokyo Games.

The International Olympic Committee says the procession order is changing to give certain teams extra prominence.

Following Olympic tradition, Greece’s team leads the parade on July 24. After Tuesday’s decision by the IOC executive board, the refugee team will come second instead of the first nation by alphabetical order, Afghanistan.

Telegraph Herald wire services

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