When the coaching staff was overhauled this past offseason, there were a few prominent candidates for the Sens’ head coaching position, the most notable being Guy Boucher, Bruce Boudreau and Marc Crawford. Pierre Dorion chose to bring in Boucher, with Boudreau heading to Minnesota. With the main piece filled out, there was still an availability left for a secondary position.
Having coached against each other in the Swiss League the last couple seasons, it was Boucher’s decision to bring in Marc Crawford as an associate coach, and it seems to have been paying dividends. Although Crawford’s impact on The System can’t be exactly identified, it can be assumed that he’s played a large role next to Boucher. His resume includes now sixteen seasons of NHL coaching experience, a Jack Adams Trophy in 1995, and a Stanley Cup with the Colorado Avalanche in 1996. He was an attractive hire to come to Ottawa, and it appears that same attractiveness is being noticed by other teams.
After the Vancouver Canucks fired Willie Desjardins last month, Crawford became one of the fan favourites as a potential successor. That didn’t happen, as Travis Green was named their new bench boss this past week. There was also some early buzz of him possibly being picked up by the expansion team in Vegas, although none of that materialized with the Golden Knights hiring Gerard Gallant instead.
Now, there only remains two vacant coaching positions, in Florida and in Buffalo. Although there hasn’t been much talk surrounding Crawford and the Sabres,
ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun tweeted this out yesterday:
Wouldn't surprise me if Florida also doesn't want to talk to another candidate still involved in the NHL playoffs, too— Pierre LeBrun (@PierreVLeBrun) May 2, 2017
As noted by many of the replies, Marc Crawford seems like the most plausible option of the coaches still in the playoffs. The fit would make sense as well, as Crawford has been outspoken towards his use of analytics, something the Panthers organization has become known for. From his interview with Sean Tierney:
I have always been at the forefront of analytics
We utilize statistics for zone time, zone exits, zone entries, scoring chances, momentum swings and of coarse, shots, hits, giveaways, takeaways, and goals.
I have long been a proponent of using the info to develop your practices, to utilize your match ups and to aid in the development of your line combos and D pairings.
I am constantly looking for the edge and I do believe that interpreting the data is of more importance than collecting it.
As much as Crawford’s loss on the bench would be a sting for the Senators, it’s worth considering why Crawford took this job in the first place. It allowed him to come back into the NHL, on a risk-free basis that could see him transition back to being a head coach. Should the Sens struggle, Boucher could be canned leaving the door open for Crawford to step in. Except the Sens have not struggled (thankfully), and this season’s instead been a showcase of Crawford to the rest of the league that he still has a place in the NHL after being gone for the last five years.
With Ottawa playing the way they’ve been playing, seeing Crawford drum up interest around the league the way he has should be expected. Him and Boucher have formed a fantastic tandem this season, although it appears there’s an imminent possibility of him moving elsewhere.