The Blackhawks completed their coaching staff for the 2019-20 season on Tuesday by announcing the hiring of Marc Crawford, who most notably won a Stanley Cup as head coach of the Colorado Avalanche in 1995-96.
"I am just really thrilled to be coming to Chicago," Crawford said on a conference call. "It's my first opportunity to work for an Original 6 franchise. ... I think my experience and knowledge of the league will be beneficial to the coaching staff that's led by Jeremy [Colliton]. I'm looking forward to working with all the coaches on the Blackhawks. I'm really looking forward to just being in the organization.
"I've had the pleasure of playing in the old Chicago Stadium and coaching in the United Center for so many great games. It's such a wonderful experience. When that anthem starts to roar you can't help but have the hair on the back of your neck rise and I'm looking forward to doing it from the Blackhawks' bench now."
In 18 seasons as an NHL head coach, Crawford owns a 556-431-182 record in the regular season and 43-40 record in the playoffs. He most recently served as the interim head coach for the Ottawa Senators after they fired Guy Boucher with 18 games left in the season.
As an assistant with the Senators, Crawford's primary responsibilities included running the penalty kill. But he also had his eye on the power play and believes in having a staff that works together in every facet.
"I don't want to pigeon-hole anybody on the staff and I certainly don't want to be pigeon-holed myself," Crawford said. "I've got extensive experience running the power play. I've got extensive experience running the PK. I've got extensive experience of being the head coach and kind of recognizing when the time to give input is. And I've done as an assistant coach the same thing.
"I do think that the best staffs are always the best collaborative staffs. You usually have to have a focal person that actually gives a lot of the meetings or maybe most of the meetings, and has a chance to be the person to have the last call. That's Jeremy. And Jeremy's very comfortable about making those calls, and we talked a lot about that. But I do think that collaboration is crucial in today's game. It's crucial with the coaching staff. It's very, very crucial with the players because in this day and age they want, they need, they desire input and you need to really be a great listener. So I hope that my best skills are that I'm collaborative and I'm a decent listener. But I think if it comes right down to it, those skills and the fact that I have tactically a good acumen for the game probably will be right at the top of the list as well."
The 58-year-old Crawford adds an experienced voice to a young Blackhawks bench that includes Colliton (34), Sheldon Brookbank (38) and Tomas Mitell (38). Goaltending coach Jimmy Waite, video coach Matt Meacham and assistant video coach Dylan Crawford, Marc's son, round out the staff.
Stylistically, Crawford said his coaching philosophically aligns perfectly with Colliton and it's one of the reasons why he felt Chicago was a good destination.
"I think we align very, very well," Crawford said. "As a matter of fact, it was pretty amazing to see how our thought process with how he utilizes people, how he wants to manage his staff. If I was the head coach I would do things almost exactly like he is doing them. From the standpoint of systems, I've been around to see systems work with one team and not work with another. I've been around long enough to recognize there's more than one way to be successful in the National Hockey League. And I've also been around enough to recognize when I see a young great coach and Jeremy is very, very bright. He's very innovative, he's got lots of different ideas of how you should forecheck, how you should play in the neutral zone, how you should defend.
"But I think what I like most about him is how he's communicating with not only his staff but his players because I think that is the number one factor in being a good coach almost in any era. Your players have to understand you, you have to understand them. I think that's become paramount in the game today and you've got to go the extra mile. I know he's going to do that and I'm going to be able to help him do that. So from that standpoint, we align very, very well."
An interesting tie-in is that Joel Quenneville served as an assistant coach under Crawford with Quebec/Colorado from 1994-97. Quenneville was relieved of his duties by the Blackhawks in November, and he didn't need to sell Crawford too much on Chicago and the organization.
"Joel and I are good friends," Crawford said. "I’ve talked to Joel on a regular basis over the past 25 years. ... Joel speaks very, very fondly of the Chicago Blackhawks, and you understand why. I see the quality in the organization, I see the quality of the management, and he didn’t have to do a lot of prodding for me. But I talked to him about some of the opportunities that I had and he spoke very, very highly of the opportunity that I had here in Chicago. He spoke very well of Jeremy, and he spoke very well of the management staff. I didn’t need Joel to tell me this was going to be a very good opportunity, but he offered that type of information to me."