‘Ottawa’ Ottawa Senators’ New Associate Coach Marc Crawford Right at Home in Capital Region
The Canuck they called “Crow” no longer has to fly to see his relatives.
For the first time since 1991, Marc Crawford can live full time in the 613 area code. Don’t ask him to recite the other seven digits of the phone numbers to all his family members — Crawford is one of nine children created by Pauline and Floyd — but he at least he can call 911 instead of 411 to get a hold of one of them in a hurry.
He is a second cousin of Charles Bordeleau, Ottawa’s chief of police.
“I’m hoping that’s a real good connection,” the Senators’ first-ever associate coach joked Wednesday at the Canadian Tire Centre.
According to Wikipedia (I would have verified with him had I read this earlier in the day), Crawford was known as “747” when he played parts of six seasons for the Vancouver Canucks because he was constantly being shuffled back to the team’s AHL affiliate — the Fredericton Express — some 5,000 km away. His nickname turned to “Crow” when he became Vancouver’s head coach, an occupation he chose immediately after hanging up the skates.
All told, he has stood behind the home team’s bench in eight cities in various outreaches of the globe, including St. John’s N.L., Quebec, Colorado (Denver), Los Angeles, Dallas and Zurich.
“I’ve been married 34 years, but in hockey terms that’s 17 because I’ve only seen her half the time,” said Crawford, only half-kiddingly.
Born and raised in Belleville, Crawford has had hockey running through his veins all his life. His dad played professionally and was captain of the world champion Belleville McFarlands. His brothers, Bob and Lou, played in the NHL. He remembers playing his first game in the old Belleville Arena as a five-year old.
“The Belleville Bulls were a big part of the upbringing for me,” said Crawford, disappointed that his home town no longer has an OHL team. “I was part of the Belleville Bobcats, which was the Tier II team before the Bulls. I played there two years before I went to Cornwall and played for the Royals.”
When he hung up the skates, Crawford returned to Cornwall to coach the Royals from 1989-91.
As a junior hockey writer back then, I clearly remember calling him up to do set-up pieces the day the before the Royals came to town. He’d generally ask more questions about Brian Kilrea’s 67’s than he’d answer about his own team.
Little good the information did him.
“I think we played them 10 times and Killer beat me nine,” said Crawford. “The one time we beat him he said, ‘Geez those referees were so bad.’”
When Kilrea was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame, Crawford sent him a message reminding him that a part of his success came at the expense of the Royals. Kidding aside, Crawford said when he also assumed the GM duties in Cornwall, Kilrea would help him any way he could.
“Such a fun guy,” remembers Crawford. “He would always say, ‘Geez, you’re doing really good Marc. Yeah … we beat you again by six. Hey, want a beer?’
“I’d say thanks Killer, yeah, I’ll have a beer.”
His biggest influence in becoming a coach was Floyd.
“My dad is the reason I am,” said Crawford, who compares his father’s love of the game to that of Senators head coach Guy Boucher. “Guy is the only person I met that has kind of the same passion as my dad. It could be in the middle of July, and my dad would be sitting there with the salt and pepper shaker and he’d be like, ‘okay, this is the defenceman, and this is the forward’ … that’s how I grew up. Guy is like that, too. He could talk hockey (all day). He never gets tired. He’s amazing. I think he needed me because I’m the only person that’s kind of used to that.”
As much as Crawford and Boucher become friends in Switzerland, so did their wives.
“I think you can never discount how important that is in a staff,” said Crawford. “They got to meet each other at the end of the year in Switzerland, and that was a really positive thing.
“The chemistry and the fit, I feel, is really, really good.”
He feels the same away about being back in both Canada and the nation’s capital.
“I’m an eastern Ontario boy,” said Crawford. “My summer home is in Cornwall. I’ve got five nieces and nephews that are going to school here in Ottawa. So obviously tickets will be at a premium in the Crawford household, I hear.
“My wife is absolutely thrilled to be able to come back home. We’ve got parents that are still around and we want to spend more time with them.
“We’re just looking forward to having a great stay here and really getting to know everybody in Ottawa.”
He will be picking up fewer air mile points going forward, but at this stage “Crow” probably has enough to last a lifetime.