Whenever a team misses the playoffs two years in a row, it shouldn’t be surprising to anyone if they fire their coach in the off-season.
Still, you have to wonder, why now and not right after the regular season?
The Kings’ year ended, officially, in April, though they didn’t really have much of a chance at the post-season by the time Groundhog Day rolled around. And for Kings fans, this early demise is becoming all too familiar.
GM Dean Lombardi said this firing was a “gut call” and was best for the team’s further development. But after a tough season full of problems and disappointment, this one should have been a no-brainer.
Crawford was dragged into the Todd Bertuzzi-Steve Moore lawsuit back in November, when he was accused of telling his then-Canucks team to go after Moore. And we all know what Bertuzzi did to answer that call.
Though the combative Crawford won a Cup in Colorado, that was done with a plethora of talent and veteran leadership to help carry the burden, something the Kings seriously lack.
His inability to guide a talented Canucks team past the second round of the playoffs is well documented, and now Crawford has gone three successive seasons without a playoff appearance.
So what’s next for this one-time Cup champion?
You have to wonder if Crawford will sit on the sidelines for a while, if not walk off into the sunset for good. His legal issues with Moore, inability to get a talented, though goalie-deprived Canucks team deep into the playoffs and a disappointing stint in Hollywood – despite having great young talents such as Anze Kopitar, Jack Johnson, Dustin Brown and Patrick O’Sullivan – could turn teams away to other, newer coaching candidates. Especially with how important youth has become in the “New NHL.”
If the success of Bruce Boudreau in Washington will truly usher in a new era of first-time NHL bench bosses – as it should – instead of continuing to go back to the well of recycled resumes, Crawford won’t be finding a position anytime soon.
In L.A., though, one thing is for sure: Lombardi’s track record of acquisitions hasn’t been the greatest, so if he doesn’t make this one count, he could be the next one on the way out of tinsel town.