Joe Crozier

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Joe Crozier
Joe Crozier 1973.JPG
Crozier in 1973
Born (1929-02-19) February 19, 1929 (age 85)
Winnipeg, MB, CAN
Height 6 ft 0 in (183 cm)
Weight 180 lb (82 kg; 12 st 12 lb)
Position Defence
Shot Right
Played for PCHL
 San Francisco Shamrocks
 Vancouver Canucks
 USHL
 Denver Falcons
 QHL

 Quebec Aces
 AHL
 Springfield Indians
 Providence Reds
 Rochester Americans
 NHL
 Toronto Maple Leafs
 WHL
 Spokane Spokes
Playing career 1949–1961

Joseph Richard Crozier (born February 19, 1929 in Winnipeg, Manitoba) is a former professional ice hockey defenceman and head coach who played and coached primarily in the minor leagues.

After playing the better part of 12 seasons in the minor leagues with the Quebec Aces of the Quebec Senior Hockey League, which included a brief five game stint in the National Hockey League with the Toronto Maple Leafs, Crozier retired in 1961 and became a head coach for 22 years, beginning in 1963. He had also previously been a head coach for the Quebec Aces while he was still playing with them in 1957–58.

As a head coach in several leagues, Crozier is a three-time Calder Cup champion with the Rochester Americans of the American Hockey League, a two-time Lester Patrick Cup championship with the Vancouver Canucks of the Western Hockey League, and a Memorial Cup champion with the Kitchener Rangers of the Ontario Hockey League. During his coaching career, he also made brief appearances in the National Hockey League with the Buffalo Sabres for two and half seasons and the Toronto Maple Leafs from the end of 1979–80 to the first half of 1980–81.

In 1985, Crozier was inducted into the Manitoba Hockey Hall of Fame for his individual efforts, then once again in 2007 as part of a team induction of the Memorial Cup-runners-up 1948–49 Brandon Wheat Kings.[1]

Playing career[edit]

A native of Winnipeg, Crozier played junior hockey in the Manitoba Junior Hockey League with the Brandon Wheat Kings. In his first season in 1947–48, he was named to the MJHL Second All-Star Team, then the First All-Star Team the following year.[2] His second and final year in Brandon culminated in an eight-game Memorial Cup final series against the Montreal Royals. The seven-game series was extended an extra game as game three had ended in a 3–3 tie. Although Crozier scored the first goal in the final and deciding eight game, the Royals scored four times in the third period to defeat the Wheat Kings 6–4. They were later inducted as a team into the Manitoba Hockey Hall of Fame 58 years later in 2007.[1]

Turning professional in 1949 with the San Francisco Shamrocks of the Pacific Coast Hockey League, he began a long career in the minor leagues. After playing a season with the Vancouver Canucks in 1950–51, he joined the Quebec Aces of the Quebec Senior Hockey League. Crozier would remain with the Aces for eight seasons, earning Second All-Star Team honours in 1954 after a 27-point campaign and First Team honours in 1957 after recording 37 points. During the 1957–58 season, Crozier also acted as team head coach.

In 1959–60, Crozier joined the Rochester Americans of the American Hockey League, then earned a break with the Toronto Maple Leafs of the National Hockey League. He played five games with the Leafs, his only appearance in the NHL as a player, recording 3 assists.

After his brief NHL stint, Crozier finished his playing career with the Spokane Spokes of the Western Hockey League in 1959–60 and one more season with the Rochester Americans in 1960–61.

Coaching career[edit]

Crozier made his head coaching debut in 1957–58 with the Quebec Aces of the Quebec Senior Hockey League, while still playing defence with the team, posting a 29–31–4 record. Upon retiring in 1961, he became a head coach for the Charlotte Checkers of the minor professional Eastern Hockey League in 1962. After one season with the Checkers, he joined the Rochester Americans of the American Hockey League, with whom he had previously played two seasons with as a player. In 1965, his second season as head coach of the Americans, he won his first of three Calder Cups, as AHL champion, during five seasons with the team.

Fresh off of his third Calder Cup and fourth consecutive trip to the AHL finals, he became head coach for the Vancouver Canucks of the Western Hockey League, with whom he had also previously played for early in his career. Crozier immediately won two Lester Patrick Cups as WHL champion in his only two seasons with Vancouver.

After the second WHL championship in 1970, the Canucks were absorbed by the National Hockey League and Crozier briefly returned to the AHL to coach the Cincinnati Swords. However, after a heart attack to Buffalo Sabres coach "Punch" Imlach, Crozier was given Imlach's position and made his National Hockey League coaching debut in 1972. Although he finished the Sabres' 1971–72 season with just 8 wins in 36 games, Crozier coached the Sabres to a playoff berth the following season, posting a winning record of 37–27–14. However, after finishing his third season with the Sabres out of the playoffs, he was replaced by Floyd Smith after the 1973–74 season.

Upon leaving the Sabres, he joined the NHL-rival-league World Hockey Association with the Vancouver Blazers in 1974–75, then the Calgary Cowboys for two seasons as the franchise relocated. In 1975–76, Crozier made it to the semi-finals with the Cowboys but lost to the Winnipeg Jets. In his third and final season with the Blazers-Cowboys franchise, in which Calgary failed to make the playoffs, Crozier dumped the team's spare hockey sticks from the bench onto the ice during a game in protest of a disputed call. Another incident with the Cowboys involves a mishap while trying to return to Calgary after a game against the San Diego Mariners. The pilot had failed to refuel and there was not enough gas to return home. Although Crozier asked the team to collectively pitch in, they still did not have enough money. The team was bailed out by their play-by-play announcer who used his wife's Texaco card to front the $1,500 bill.[1] During his stint with the franchise, Crozier also rose to the position of general manager.[1]

In 1979–80, after beginning the season in the AHL coaching the New Brunswick Hawks, Crozier received his second break in the NHL with the Toronto Maple Leafs, replacing, once again, "Punch" Imlach mid-season. He coached the Leafs for the final 10 games of the regular season, but they were swept in the first round of the 1980 Stanley Cup Playoffs by the Minnesota North Stars in three games. The following season, the Leafs started with just 13 wins in the first 40 games and Crozier was replaced mid-season with Mike Nykoluk.

After his second NHL stint, Crozier joined the Kitchener Rangers of the major junior Ontario Hockey League for two seasons, replacing Orval Tessier. The Rangers had just come off a Memorial Cup final game loss to the Cornwall Royals the previous season and in his first season with the team, they returned to the Memorial Cup, winning the J. Ross Robertson Cup as the OHL champion. The Rangers made it to the 1982 Memorial Cup Final and defeated the Sherbrooke Castors 7–4 to capture Crozier and the Rangers' first Canadian Hockey League title. With the team, Crozier future NHL stars Scott Stevens and Brian Bellows.

Coming off their Memorial Cup championship, Crozier and the Rangers finished with a strong 45–23–2 record in 1982–83, but fell to the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds in the third round. After two seasons with the Rangers, Crozier returned to the Rochester Americans for one season, in which they reached the 1984 Calder Cup Final against the Maine Mariners, but lost in five games. Crozier then retired after the 1983–84 season.

Shortly after his retirement, Crozier was inducted into the Manitoba Hockey Hall of Fame in 1985 for his individual efforts.[1]

Joe Crozier was elected to the American Hockey League Hall of Fame, Class of 2012 for his distinguished career as player and coach

Coaching record[edit]

Team Year Regular Season Post Season
G W L T OTL Pts Finish Result
BUF (NHL) 1971–72 36 8 19 9 - (51) 6th in East Did Not Qualify
BUF (NHL) 1972–73 78 37 27 14 - 88 4th in East Lost in First round
BUF (NHL) 1973–74 78 32 34 12 - 76 5th in East Did Not Qualify
VAN (WHA) 1974–75 78 37 39 2 - 76 4th in Canadian Did Not Qualify
CGY (WHA) 1975–76 80 41 35 4 - 86 3rd in Canadian Lost in Second round
CGY (WHA) 1976–77 81 31 43 7 - 69 5th in West Did Not Qualify
TOR (WHA) 1980–81 40 13 22 5 - (71) 5th in Adams (fired)
NHL Total 232 90 102 40
WHA Total 239 109 117 13

Awards and achievements[edit]

Playing career

  • MJHL Second All-Star Team – 1948
  • MJHL First All-Star Team – 1949
  • QHL Second All-Star Team – 1954
  • QHL First All-Star Team – 1957

Coaching career

Manitoba Hockey Hall of Fame

  • Inducted for individual efforts – 1985
  • Inducted as part of 1948–49 Brandon Wheat Kings – 2007

American Hockey League Hall of Fame, Class of 2012

External links[edit]

References[edit]

Preceded by
Floyd Smith
Head coach of the Buffalo Sabres
1971–74
Succeeded by
Floyd Smith
Preceded by
Andy Bathgate
Head coach of the Vancouver Blazers/Calgary Cowboys
1974–77
Succeeded by
none
Preceded by
Punch Imlach
Head coach of the Toronto Maple Leafs
1980–81
Succeeded by
Mike Nykoluk