August 25, 2011
It was the type of embarrassing incident that made you wonder if Mark Hardy would ever be able to get back into coaching hockey.
Arrested in May of 2010 on a sexual abuse charge after D.C. police accused him of fondling his daughter after the two spent the night drinking, Hardy eventually saw the charge reduced to a misdemeanor and then dropped this past October. He resigned his position as assistant coach with the Los Angeles Kings last June and completed treatment for alcohol abuse.
A little over a year after that night, Hardy is finally getting his second chance at coaching professional hockey. On Wednesday, the ECHL's Ontario (Calif.) Reign -- affiliate of the Kings -- announced that Hardy accepted an assistant coaching position with the team.
"I have known Mark since my first job in hockey over 16 years ago and am thrilled to have him join us in Ontario." Said Reign President, Justin Kemp. "I believe Jason's hard working, offensive style of coaching mixed with Mark's defensive prowess give this team the leadership that will make us a very tough team to play against night in and night out."
Hardy told Michael Martinez of FOX Sports West that since the charges were dropped, he'd inquired on a number of open coaching gigs, but nothing developed from them. After a tumultuous year, Hardy's ready to get back in the game:
"I really feel fortunate that I have a strong family, and I've had tremendous support from all my friends," he said. "All the Kings fans have been fantastic to me, and I'm looking forward to getting back at it. I'm sober and I'm looking forward to moving on and taking it one day at a time and going for it."
Hardy also said that he and he family are still together despite that incident a year ago.
Aside from the team's affiliate ties with the Kings, Hardy has a connection with team president Justin Kemp. When Hardy was an assistant coach with the Los Angeles Ice Dogs of the IHL in the mid-90s, the team was own by Bruce Kemp, Justin's father.
Good for Hardy and good for the Reign for not allowing the door to completely shut on his coaching career.