Crawford is Canucks' winningest coach

Updated: January 1, 2004, 2:25 AM ET
Associated Press

CHICAGO -- Vancouver coach Marc Crawford was given a three-year contract extension, the Canucks said Wednesday night during their game against the Chicago Blackhawks.

Canucks general manager Brian Burke made the announcement during a television interview in between the second and third periods of Vancouver's 4-3 overtime victory.

"We are very pleased to announce that Marc Crawford has agreed to a three-year contract extension," Burke said. "It's well deserved, he's done a real nice job here."

Back on Jan. 24, 1999, Crawford took over a struggling team that had missed the playoffs for two straight seasons. He has since become the winningest coach in team history, compiling a record of 182-150-58-21 and leading Vancouver to the playoffs in each of the last three seasons.

"It's taken a little bit longer than anybody would have liked," said Crawford, who added that the delay was caused by Burke's unsettled contract. "He's confident that he's going to get his done. He told me to go ahead. I want to stay here and Brian wants to stay here."

Last season, the Canucks set team records with 104 points, a 10-game winning streak and a 14-game unbeaten streak. They won their first playoff series since 1995.

"I think that's a good move," leading scorer Markus Naslund said. "He's done an excellent job with this team. He's well respected.

"I think it was a smart move to do it early and get a long term deal, too."

Crawford played 176 games with the Canucks between 1981 and 1987 before turning to coaching.

He began his career in the NHL with the Quebec Nordiques in 1994, and in his first season became the league's youngest coach of the year. He was the third-youngest to win a Stanley Cup when the relocated Nordiques won as the Colorado Avalanche in 1996.

"He's done a good job with a lot of the guys," forward Todd Bertuzzi said. "I think collectively we've all put this franchise on the map and let them know we are a contender."

Crawford also coached Team Canada at the 1998 Winter Olympics before leaving Colorado at the end of the 1997-98 season. He became the Canucks' 15th head coach midway through the next season.

He is 347-238-97-21 in 9 seasons.


Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press