Last day for the CROW

BOB MACKIN -- 24 Hours Vancouver

, Last Updated: 8:28 AM ET

"Crow" is gone from the nest, leaving Vancouver Canucks' players and fans to wonder what's next.

General manager Dave Nonis is looking for a new head coach after firing Marc Crawford yesterday.

"It had to start behind the bench," Nonis said. "It's the start of doing some things to the team to make it better."

It was a move designed to warn players to expect more changes and it will pacify anxious fans seeking someone to blame for one of the most disappointing seasons in the club's history.

Canucks were poised for a lengthy playoff run but instead finished 2005-2006 as the Western conference's ninth-place squad, missing the playoffs for the first time since 2000. Nonis said Crawford's firing was not caused by his often-stormy relationship with Todd Bertuzzi, but no player is absolved for the club's failure.

"There's a lot of blame to be spread around," he said.

Crawford, a 45-year-old Belleville, Ont. native, went to the 1982 Stanley Cup final as a Canucks' rookie and played nine years in the Vancouver organization. He found greater success behind the bench as 1995's National Hockey League coach of the year with the Quebec Nordiques and moved with the team to Denver and guided the Colorado Avalanche to Stanley Cup glory in 1996.

He returned to Vancouver as the Canucks' 15th head coach on Jan. 24, 1999 and set a club record with 246 coaching wins over seven seasons. Canucks, however, were winners of one playoff series in five tries under Crawford. He had one year remaining on his contract.

His legacy is "one of resurrection," Nonis said, because he took the team from "bottom of the barrel" to near the top.

"He gave us credibility when we didn't have any. He'll go down as one of the best coaches that have coached here."

Associate coaches Mike Johnston and Jack McIlhargey, and assistant coach Barry Smith remain with the club.


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