Crawford pays price for underachieving team

Updated: April 26, 2006, 2:01 PM ET
By Barry Melrose | Special to ESPN.com

I think coaches are fired way too quickly in the NHL, I've always thought that. It's way too easy to blame one guy, but that's the way the league is. When you don't win and you're not where you're supposed to be as a team, someone has to pay the price, and it's usually the coach.

Pat Quinn lost his job a week ago, and now it's Marc Crawford.

I know some have said that this decision came down to the Vancouver Canucks "choosing" between Crawford and Todd Bertuzzi. I don't believe that. I wouldn't be surprised if the team still moves Bertuzzi this summer. But when you move a player like Bertuzzi, you better get something good in return. Because when Bertuzzi is on his game, he can be one of the best in the world. At the same time, the Canucks might take a chance and keep Bertuzzi in the hopes that a new coach can get to him.

But back to why Crawford is out. The team just didn't play well, especially down the stretch. The team lost six of its last eight games, and the Canucks didn't play with the same intensity as their opponents. It seemed their opponents wanted to be in the playoffs more and Crawford couldn't get the team fired up.

Talent-wise, they should have been a playoff team, but they completely underachieved.

Crawford will coach again, no doubt about it. He has a year left on his contract, but he'll likely pick and choose where he wants to go. There will be many openings this offseason and he'll decide what's best for him.

Wherever he lands, that team will get a winner out of Crawford. He won a Stanley Cup in Colorado. Crawford's teams play very hard and his competitiveness rubs off on his teams. No doubt, Crawford's future team will work very hard.

Barry Melrose, a former NHL defenseman and coach, is a hockey analyst for ESPN.

Barry Melrose

NHL studio analyst
Former NHL player and coach Barry Melrose is an NHL studio analyst for ESPN.