Monday, May 22, 2006

It's official: Crawford's a King

With the kind of success Marc Crawford has had in 12 years as an NHL head coach, it's certainly no surprise that it took him all of two weeks to catch on with another franchise.
"I'm a different coach from Andy Murray," Crawford said. "I'm very passionate and inclusive. I want players around me who are creative."
Two quick things: One notable result of this move by new GM/president Dean Lombardi is that he and Crawford now comprise what has to be the youngest coach/management team in the NHL.

Both Lombardi and Crawford are just 45 years old, but are veritable dinosaurs in terms of pro hockey experience: Crawford has been an AHL or NHL coach since 1991, and Lombardi has been regarded as one of the league's top young execs since he signed on as GM of the San Jose Sharks in 1995-96.

The second interesting thing about this hiring is the effect it has on the newly minted Battle of California rivalry. Crawford was the longtime coach of the Vancouver Canucks under then-GM Brian Burke, who is now with the Anaheim Mighty Ducks. Keeping in mind Lombardi's ties to San Jose, including the fact he drafted and/or developed many of the players still on that Sharks team, and Crawford hiring adds a little extra spice to the Pacific Division.

In all, it's a good hiring by the Kings, who haven't had a change behind the bench since Murray replaced Larry Robinson in 1999.

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