NHL Hockey: Marc Crawford
Date of birth: February 13, 1961
Place of birth: Belleville, Ontario Canada
Position: Left Wing
Vancouver Canucks, Milwaukee Admirals (IHL), Fredericton Express (AHL), Dallas Black Hawks (CHL)
Playing career: 1981–1989
Marc Crawford, or ‘Crow’ as he is very well known, both played and coached in the NHL. He was a middling player, who went on to attain a great deal of success as a bench boss, before taking a position as a studio pundit on CBC Hockey Night in Canada and TSN on TV.
Crawford was born in Belleville, Ontario, but played his major junior hockey in Quebec with the old Cornwall Royals of the QMJHL. He was a talented left wing as a junior, amassing 231 points in 187 regular season games from 1978-81.
However, Crawford was even more impressive as a playoff performer and produced 69 points in just 44 post season appearances.
Crow was selected 70th overall in the 4th round by the Vancouver Canucks, and promptly made it to the NHL the very next year in the 1981-82 season.
His stats there were more modest, with 12 points in 40 games in his rookie year, but he had the good fortune to ride the unexpected playoff wave that carried the Canucks to their first Stanley Cup Finals appearance.
Despite the exciting start to his professional playing career, Crawford was destined to spend the next few years shuttling between the NHL and the Canucks affiliates, mainly the Fredericton Express.
He would eventually end his NHL career in 1987, and accumulated a total of 50 points in 176 regular season games, with another 3 points in 20 playoff contests.
Crawford played out the string in the AHL for two more years.
Crawford didn’t take long to establish his coaching vocation, finding a position with his old Cornwall team for the 1989-90 season. He had mixed results before stepping up to the AHL, where he struck gold, managing the St. John’s Maple Leafs to the finals immediately.
Crow stayed there for two more years before making the big time in the NHL with the Quebec Nordiques.
He found instant success with a talented young team, led by Joe Sakic. Following a promising first year, a tumultuous off-season move to Colorado and a new identity as the Avalanche ended in spectacular fashion with the Stanley Cup win.
Crawford lasted two more years in Denver, before taking a position with the Vancouver Canucks, his alma mater.
His Vancouver tenure started slowly, as the team missed the playoffs in his first two seasons, but the emergence of the ‘West Coast Express’ line with Bertuzzi, Naslund and Morrison lifted the team into the playoffs for four straight campaigns.
However, team success was mainly limited to the regular season and the slick haired coach never took his team past the second round.
After seven years, Crow was finished in 2006.
He had two more seasons each with the LA Kings and the Dallas Stars, but failed to achieve the post-season with either team.
The perfectly coiffed Crawford was known as an excellent communicator and man manager who established strong connections with his players. He also had a good grasp of team tactics and his Stanley Cup win with the Avalanche cemented this reputation as the team steamrolled to the victory.
However, his firm faith in and close bond with his players contributed in part to his ultimate downfall as the unsavory incident with the Canucks involving Todd Bertuzzi’s assault of Steve Moore (of the same Colorado Avalanche) tainted Crawford’s legacy.
Bert has claimed that Crawford endorsed his actions in going after the Colorado forward, who had previously targeted Bertuzzi’s line mate Markus Naslund.
The real truth has yet to emerge, as the case has worked its way through several courts and appeal circuits.
These days, Crawford works in game analysis and has earned plenty of praise for his insight regarding both players and coaching styles on Canada’s TSN network.
He does it all too, with nary a hair out of place to this day.
2012 Update: Marc Crawford was hoping to get back into the NHL. Jobs in Montreal, Washington and Edmonton were on his off-season wish list, but it didn’t happen for him.
He has now opted for Zurich of the Swiss league. Good luck Coach.