Marc Crawford likely needed just two points to save his job. Two days after the season ended, and two years after Crawford’s tenure in Dallas began, he’s joined the growing list of unemployed NHL coaches.
After finishing just shy of a playoff spot Sunday and settling for ninth in the Western Conference with 95 points, Stars general manager Joe Nieuwendyk officially relieved Crawford of his duties Tuesday afternoon.
Crawford finishes with a record of 164-79-60 in Dallas, but failed to get the Stars into the playoffs, a failing that became Crawford’s undoing in a city that’s not used to observing instead of participating in April. Since moving to Dallas in 1993-94, this is the first time the Stars have missed the playoffs in back-to-back seasons.
But it’s difficult to pin the Stars’ April tee times solely on the shoulders of Crawford. Injuries played a key role, with the concussion suffered by leading point man Brad Richards leading to a crippling stretch in late February and early March in which the Stars won only four out of 10 games.
Every team struggles through injuries though, right? And it’s the coaching staff’s job to guide their team through those struggles, right? This is true, but not every team is saddled with an ownership mess that severely limited the general manager’s ability to acquire reinforcements. With the departure of Tim Hicks and the sale of the team, Joe Nieuwendyk couldn’t guarantee the future of key cogs like Richards.
This move is also odd given that this was Crawford’s first year behind the bench of a team solely constructed by Nieuwendyk after escaping the shadow of former GM Dave Tippett. These were Nieuwendyk’s guys, and Crawford was Nieuwendyk’s coach, brought aboard in the summer of 2009.
Now Crawford becomes the third coach fired in these early days of the offseason, along with the retired Jacques Lemaire.