The Complete World Hockey Association

Joe Crozier
Born: 19 Feb 1929, Winnipeg MB (d. 2022)


Regular Season & Playoff Coaching Record (key)

Regular Season Playoffs
year team
1974-75 Vancouver
1975-76 Calgary
1976-77 Calgary

• Took brief leaves-of-absence in March 1976. Harry Howell coached the team (two games) in his absence.
• Suspended for the final three games of the Calgary-Quebec playoff series, April 14-18, 1976. Harry Howell coached in his absence.
• Coached in NHL, Buf (1971-74), Tor (1980-81).


Excerpts from Pro Hockey, WHA 1975-76 (by Dan Proudfoot)

Joe Crozier is a thoughtful coach. He's not suggesting that his team's move, from being the Vancouver Blazers to being the proud, new Calgary Cowboys, is going to bring any miracles.

Certainly, he says, being the prime attraction in the Stampede Corral arena will be better than being No. 2, behind the NHL Vancouyer Canucks, in the Coliseum. Superior playing dates will mean less fatigue for his players.

Bust mostly 1975-76 will mean progress as scheduled, with Crozier continuing to emphasize youth as he did in his rookie WHA year with the Blazers. Owner Jim Pattison's decision to move to Calgary won't have any effect on Crozier's long-term development plans.

"I came in blind last year," admits Crozier, "after leaving the Buffalo Sabres I turned to the Blazers thinking I could win with a bunch of kids. I learned differently. It wasn't as I thought in this league. So under the circumstances I was happy with 76 points. We missed the playoffs, but in a different division 76 points would have been enough. And we did it with our kids. I continued playing them, even after we won only eight of our first 10 home games, and that should pay off this year. All our kids have a certain amount of experience now. I'm certainly goint to stick with them. You see a lot of teams improving by adding experienced players but we're committed to the idea that you only build with the younger players."

There were positive developments in the WHA team's final year at Vancouver. For instance, Blazers made a vast improvement in their defensive record, allowing 270 goals against compared to the outrageous total of 345 in 1973-74. Bobby Hull scored only two goals against the Blazers, meaning the Vancouver defenders must have been doing something properly. No other WHA team held the Golden Jet to so few goals.

"The thing is," Crozier argues, "we weren't really emphasizing defence. We played to score goals. Yet we didn't score all that many goals anyhow. I have found the situation to be much different in the WHA than it was in Buffalo with the NHL. In Buffalo we had a lot of kids coming up through one farm team, the Sabres' farm team, and they all had been taught to play the same system. Here, the kids come from all over the place. And none of them seemed to want to worry about defensive play, last year at least. But now they have a year under their belts and they know what I want. It should be much easier."

Crozier, as Cowboy manager as well as coach, continues bringing in new talent. Bill Reed, for instance, is only in his second year as a pro after being signed by the now-defunct Michigan Stags. Cowboys got him in a special league draft that was held because the WHA was desperate to rid itself of big-money contracts left over by franchises that had gone bankrupt. Cowboys will have to pay Reed, a huge defenceman, only half of what his contract calls for, with the league picking up the rest.

Assorted juniors and college players, like Russ Anderson of the University of Minnesota and Denis McLean of the Calgary juniors, were invited to training camp. So was Steve Hull, a cousin of Bobby Hull's, who led the Southern league in scoring in 1974-75.

"We'll sign anyone who can help us," said Al Millar, the Cowboys' chief scout, "and we offer an interesting situation for any youngster who doesn't make it this fall but wants to sit around. The Western junior league allows four or five 21-year-old players on each team, so we can arrange for some youngsters to play for our junior team, with the idea of developing to turn pro with us."

Crozier is perhaps the ideal man to have at the top of a development program. When he talks about making the playoffs, however, he can only be hoping to reach them on the basis of total points, for reaching the bottom of the tough, Canadian division will be a far more likely possibility than reaching the top at this stage of the team's development.


Excerpts from Zander Hollander Complete Hockey Handbook, 1975-76 (by Reyn Davis)

Nicknamed "The Crow" by Vancouver writers several years ago ... Best dressed coach in the WHA and certainly one of the most eloquent ... A fanatic fundamentalist ... His teams have won the Allan Cup (Canadian Senior Hockey supremacy), four Calder Cups (American Hockey League championships), and two Lester Patrick Trophy titles (Western Hockey League championships) ... He was named minor league Coach-of-the-Year in 1968 and National Hockey League Coach-of-the-Year in 1973 at Buffalo ... A distant kin of the Conachers, one of Canada's most famous athletic families, and his godfather is King Clancy, jovial vice president of the Toronto Maple Leafs.




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