When Marc Crawford accepted the associate coaching job with the Ottawa Senators, he saw it as a chance to get back into the hunt for a prize that he’s been chasing for more than two decades.
Crawford was looking for a chance to win the Stanley Cup again after guiding the Colorado Avalanche to hockey’s top prize in 1996 and after five years away from the National Hockey League, the Senators’ call was a welcome one.
In his first season behind the bench with head coach Guy Boucher, Crawford helped the Senators to a 44-win season followed by a dramatic playoff run that ended in a double-overtime loss to the eventual Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins in game seven of the Eastern Conference final.
It was a giant step forward for a team that had missed the playoffs the previous season.
The 54-year-old Belleville native has coached in more than 1,200 games in the NHL. He won the Jack Adams Trophy as the league’s top coach in 1994-95 and guided the Colorado Avalanche to a Stanley Cup win in their first season in Denver.
He brought the Stanley Cup to Belleville then and he desperately wants another shot at doing it again.
“It was a great experience,” Crawford said. “But my goal is to get there again.”
And if anyone knows how to win a championship, it’s Crawford.
It started with a pair of Memorial Cup championships as the captain of the Cornwall Royals in the late 1980’s. He helped the Vancouver Canucks get to the Stanley Cup finals in 1982 and then as a young coach, helped the St. John’s Maple Leafs get to the Calder Cup finals a decade later. In his second season behind the bench in the NHL, Crawford hoisted the Stanley Cup with the Avalanche.
Belleville native Derek Smith played a season under Crawford with the Zurich Lions in the Swiss A-League and said that he was thankful for the short time they spent together.
“The biggest thing with him is that he is emotional which is great as a coach,” Smith said. “He played the game which helps but just having him behind the bench – he has a feel for the game and it really helps a lot. He is such a great person and he has definitely helped me out a lot in my career in just a short time that we have been together.”
Crawford is looking forward to seeing how the Senators’ top prospects develop here in Belleville with the newly-arrived American Hockey League team. He was a sounding board for dozens of the conversations that led to the team moving here to start the 2017-18 season as the Senators’ top affiliate.
From Belleville Magazine (printed 2017)