Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Bobby Crawford

Belleville, Ontario's Crawford family is quite the success story. Father Floyd, a former minor league player and coach, raised four sons to play professional hockey. Marc you probably know about, but more for his NHL coaching career than his 176 NHL game playing career. Lou was a long time minor league player who got a couple stints in the big leagues, totaling 26 games. Pete never made it to the big leagues.

And then there is Bobby Crawford, who exploded for a 36 goal NHL season in 1983-84 with the Hartford Whalers, but otherwise, like his brothers and father, was a minor league sensation, too.

Like younger brother Marc, Bobby starred with the Cornwall Royals in junior hockey. The two played together in Bobby's last junior season, 1978-79. By that time Bobby set a high standard with a storied junior career that included 121 and 132 point seasons.

The St. Louis blues drafted the small but fiesty forward 65th overall in 1979, but aside from 30 sporadic games over the next 4 seasons he was buried in the minor leagues. Crawford made the best of those days on the bus. He was an all star forward and helped the Salt Lake Golden Eagles capture two Central Hockey League championships.

The Blues left Crawford unprotected in the waiver draft just prior to the start of the 1983-84 season. The Whalers were quick to pick up three St. Louis players in that draft - Mike Crombeen, Mike Zuke and Crawford.

Crawford found a home on the right side of center Greg Malone and left winger Torrie Robertson. Crawford was a shooter, and Malone a playmaker, so it was a good fit. Crawford scored 36 goals and 61 points. Sylvain Turgeon was the only Whaler to score more goals, with 40.

Crawford's success was short lived. His offense dried up some the following season, scoring 14 goals in 45 games before a bad knee injury ended his season. He returned in 1985-86 to score another 14 goals, this time in 57 games, but his role as an offensive marksman with the Whalers was lost.

Crawford tried hanging on to a NHL role as a 4th liner, first in Hartford and with the New York Rangers and Washington Capitals. He played with zest and speed, but did not have the strength to excel in the plugger role. He also was not particularly solid defensively.  It was a fairly short experiment. Crawford would finish his career playing in Germany.

In 246 NHL games Bobby Crawford scored 71 goals and 71 assists for 142 points. He added one lone assist in 11 playoff games.

In retirement Crawford returned to Connecticut and founded the Connecticut Clippers Jr. B team.

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