Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Marc Crawford . . . The New King of Kings!

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. (AP) - Marc Crawford brings a demanding style and a winning resume to his new job as coach of the Los Angeles Kings.
Crawford was introduced Monday as the replacement for John Torchetti, who coached the season's final 12 games after Andy Murray was fired.
Crawford signed a multi-year deal. Terms weren't disclosed.
"We're going to continue to build on the strengths that they've had in here," he said. "It is a talented group. I look forward to hopefully helping some of the players make strong improvements in their game."
And make the playoffs, which the Kings missed for a third consecutive season after finishing 42-35-5.

Bringing Crawford aboard was the first major move by Kings general manager Dean Lombardi, hired last month to succeed Dave Taylor.
"This is not only a guy who knows how to win, but also knows how to get the best out of his players," said Lombardi, who spent 36 hours with Crawford last week.
"What impressed me the most was his willingness to admit he made mistakes and his willingness to admit he didn't have the answers yet, but he was going to find them," Lombardi said.
Crawford himself is fresh off being fired by the Vancouver Canucks in April after seven years that included four consecutive playoff appearances before missing this season.
He has a regular-season record of 411-285-127 in 12 seasons in the NHL, and a 43-40 playoff mark.
The 46-year-old Crawford guided Colorado to the 1996 Stanley Cup championship, when Peter Forsberg, Joe Sakic and Patrick Roy played for him. Crawford becomes the first coach in Kings' history to have a Stanley Cup on his resume.
"I'm a different coach from Andy Murray. I say that with all respect," he said. "I'm very passionate about what I do, I'm very inclusive in how I perform my duties as a head coach, and most of all, I want players and people around me who work hard, who are creative.
"I expect a lot from my players, I'm very demanding."
Crawford promised the Kings will pressure both ends of the ice.
Centre Craig Conroy described himself as "very impressed" with Crawford's resume.
"I saw what he did in Vancouver, how he kind of resurrected that whole team and the way the team responded, it's so positive," Conroy said. "It seems like he makes everybody on the team accountable, too, and that's what we really need here."
Crawford said the deciding factor in taking the job was the shared philosophy between him, Lombardi, team owner Phillip Anshutz and Tim Leiweke, who gave up his title as chief executive officer so Lombardi could have freer rein in running the team.
"I have a strong sense of commitment from Mr. Anshutz and Tim Leiweke and most of all from Dean that he was going to do things the right way," Crawford said. "We weren't going to put Band-Aids on problems."
Lombardi has met with the entire team in his first month on the job.
Asked his assessment of what went wrong last season, he said, "It was a series of molehills that were allowed to continue to brew and then finally it just collapsed."
Injuries contributed to the Kings' demise after they started the season strongly, then the infighting began.
"When things started to go south, there were arguments here, arguments there. Everyone is kind of pointing the finger," Conroy said. "That's what we (have) got to get away from. We just let it snowball and it got worse and we couldn't get out of it."
Crawford emphasizes building strong relationships with his players. While spending time last week with Lombardi, Crawford's phone rang with a call from Vancouver forward Todd Bertuzzi.
"I found that really impressive that he would take the time to call his coach," Lombardi said.
Bertuzzi is being sued in a Canadian civil court by former Colorado player Steve Moore, who was seriously injured after being punched by Bertuzzi in a 2004 game. Bertuzzi pleaded guilty to assaulting Moore.
Crawford had dealt with the fallout from Bertuzzi's actions.
"You don't lose a job because of one thing that happened," he said. "Todd was very, very uncharacteristically saddled with that responsibility. It's not true."
The Kings have 11 players who are free agents, and Conroy said he feels a mix of optimism and nervousness about who will be around next season.
"You hope they don't overhaul the team completely," he said. "If you add a few players to our team, we're going to be right in the thick of things next year."

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