Montreal salute sticks with Crisp

JIM KERNAGHAN -- London Free Press

, Last Updated: 3:21 PM ET


 There is a moment in time that stands out like a beacon in the hockey memories of the coach who won the Calgary Flames' last Stanley Cup 15 years ago, a climactic instant he feels encapsulated everything right and good about his game.

 "It was just after the final buzzer and I'd hugged the assistant coaches and all that and then I looked around," Terry Crisp recalled yesterday from Calgary. "Here we were in the Mecca of hockey, the Montreal Forum, and you know something?

 "Not a fan had left. They were giving us a standing ovation and it went through my mind like a flash: This is what sports is all about. This is what true sports fans are. It was still in my mind during all the celebrations afterward. It's still in my mind now."

 Crisp went on about what it meant to a kid from Parry Sound to play in places such as Maple Leaf Gardens and the Forum. Winning the Stanley Cup on such hallowed ice was, to a guy as passionate as Crisp, at least the equal of a knighthood.

 In an era that has seen the fans becoming an after-thought in pro sports, at a juncture when hockey's owners and players could well pull the plug on next season, it was nice to hear them get a mention.

 The voluble Crisp, who is the television analyst for Nashville Predators games, has the distinction of having coached both the Flames and their Stanley Cup final round opponent Tampa Bay Lightning.

 He leans toward the Flames, of course.

 It was with Calgary that the former St. Marys junior B star reached the coaching pinnacle after having done it as a player with the Philadelphia Flyers. He also played for the Bruins, Blues and Islanders during his NHL career.

 Crisp said he expects the Flames to continue their remarkable postseason successes right to the championship.

 "Hey, they beat three division leaders already, haven't they?" he asked.

 Awash in a sea of red while he prepares for the Flames alumni golf tournament tomorrow, Crisp has other reasons. Two of his four children and their kids live in the West.

 "I got four grandchildren, two in Calgary, two in Regina," he said. "Tell the Hunters (London Knights owners Mark and Dale) just one more and I'll have five skaters for them -- but I'll be their agent."

 Let go by the Flames and then the Lightning (here's something worthy of a research paper: how many coaches, all sports, ever get to retire?), Crisp wound up doing what he does so well -- talking and listening.

 Well, talking anyway. The chatty chap does Fox hockey telecasts out of Nashville, where he has a luxury he never had as coach -- get the second guess.

 The listening part is easy. Crisp is a serious country and western fan. Where else would he want to be but Grand Ole Opry country, where singers such as Garth Brooks turn up for every game and even call for Predators' results when they're on the road?

 When he's not in Nashville, Crisp could be in several places, including the new house he's having built in St. Marys, where his in-laws reside.

 "I haven't seen it yet -- I'll be there to check on whether there's four walls and a roof," he said. "We built because we go back so often and a guest is like fish -- after three or four days you start to stink. We'll have the best of all worlds. Nashville, St. Marys and I still spend time at the camp my parents have in Parry Sound."

 Crisp hopes to play in the Brad Marsh golf tournament at The Oaks on June 30. He claims to be a bit disappointed in one thing about tomorrow's Calgary alumni tournament, though.

 "Players like Jarome Iginla and all the others won't be in it this year," he said. "The nerve of those guys. You'd almost think they had something more important to do."


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