The Complete World Hockey Association

Bart Crashley William Barton Crashley

Height: 6-0
Weight: 180
Shoot: R
Born: 15 Jun 1946, Toronto ON


Regular Season & Playoff Scoring Record (key)

year team
1972-73 Los Angeles
1973-74 Los Angeles


Crashley Another Orr? • by Walt Marlow • The Hockey Spectator • December 1, 1972

As far as Bart Crashley — the non crashing defenseman of the Los Angeles Sharks — is concerned, the only similarity between him and Bobby Orr is the fact that he owns a summer cottage in illustrious Parry Sound, Ontario.

That's the town that achieved everlasting nobility March 28th, 1948 through an act of nature. Robert Gordon Orr was born. Two years prior, William Barton Crashley came on the scene down the road apiece in Toronto. Now 26 years later, Crashley — after a less than scintillating career — finds himself being compared to perhaps the greatest defenseman in the history of the game.

He is not so sure he likes it.

"I guess my game is similar to Bobby's," acknowledged the Sharks' handsome bachelor who resides on the beach at Redondo. "I like to carry the puck make the play. But that doesn't make me a Bobby Orr."

Sharks coach Terry Slater sees it differently and he's rapidly picking up votes around the rest of the league.

Crashley, to be sure, is the most magnetic of the Sharks with his rink length dashes and undeniably has established himself as one of the bright new stars to emerge with the birth of the WHA. His box office appeal doesn't rival that of Bobby Hull's, but then, how many Bobby Hulls are there? Crashley, in Slater's unvarnished opinion, is the best all-around defenseman in the league.

"He has all the Orr qualities," waxes Slater. "He moves so well, he shifts off either foot, he clears the puck, and when the heats on he comes up with it and our end of the rink."

"I'm treating him as I would Bobby Orr. He's strictly on his own, free to do anything with the puck that he wants. After all, you don't tell a Bobby Orr-type not to bring the puck over the blue line. You let him alone, that's what you do."

Crashley doubtless appreciates the policy. It wasn't always such.

"I belonged to Detroit since I was 16, a hockey slave," he not-so-fondly recalls. "Detroit tried to make a defensive defenseman out of me."

Crashley's only big chance in the NHL came in the 1967-68 season when he worked 57 games.

"I was teamed with Gary Bergman," he said. "I would work a full shift one night and nothing the next. Sid Abel and Baz Bastien were in charge. They told me that if I carried the puck across the blue line they bench me. That wasn't my style of play."

The number one choice of the New York Islanders last June at the NHL's expansion draft, Crashley chose to defect to the WHA, for among other reasons, the fact that the Islanders didn't have a coach.

"I didn't want to get into another Sid Abel situation," he theorized. "I knew how Slater felt about my style of play. I figured he'd let me play my game."

Also instrumental in his decision was the fact that the Islanders were destined to be a loser. And then there was the money element.

"I got an excellent offer from the Islanders," he confesses it might have equaled the Shark offer after bonuses.

You conclude that he has a "very excellent" arrangement with the Sharks presumably of the $50,000 per year variety.

Crashley's career, to be sure, has been anything but uneventful. He has suffered a broken leg and a separated shoulder nine times, the latter he explains, makes it difficult to fire a hard shot. "I can't raise my left arm above my shoulder."

Goaltenders around the WHA aren't convinced. Those bullets he's firing from the point suggests that Mr. Crashley is quite healthy.

The architect of 20 goals and 38 assists with Dallas in the Central League last season — a performance that earned him the best defenseman award — Cashley says of his play:

"I consider myself a good skater and I like to lead the rush. I'm not a hitter but there is more to this game than hitting people. I want the puck. That's the way I play defense."

Interjects Slater: "That's why I say Crashley will be the Orr of this league. He's a smart hockey player who makes up for his mistakes with quick recoveries just like Orr."

Crashley, like his coach, has more than a casual interest in psychology. He's two-thirds toward a degree, having spent the last few summers at McMaster University in Hamilton. He contemplates attending the University of Southern California next summer, unless, as he says:

"I might wait until I quit hockey and then concentrate for a solid year on studies. What I want to do is earn enough money so that I can be comfortable later on teaching youngsters in a rural environment, for, say $10 to $15,000 a year.

The six-foot 180-pounder, who played his junior hockey in Hamilton, has read all of Phillip Wylie's books. On the road, he and Mike Byers are engaged in a season-long chess match that started in training camp. And on the ice the man with one of the most provocative names in hockey is scoring goals. In another losing cause to the Winnipeg Jets the other night, Bart cashed in his ninth goal of the season and an equal number of assists to run his point total to 18, highest on the club.

"When the rest of the guys start scoring like Crashley," says Slater, "we'll have a hockey club."

The Sharks, as this is written, have dropped six of their last seven starts, and Slater is a little irritated, not so much by the club as he is with WHA officiating.

"Bobby Hull and referee Bill Friday are skating around before the third period with their arms around each other," roared Slater following a 4-3 defeat to the Jets. He added:

"Vern Buffey (referee in chief) has been on us since the opening exhibition game. He's told all his refs we're the bad guys, to keep us in the penalty box. They're doing a hell of a job. It looks to me like this league is going overboard to protect its superstars."

Meanwhile Crashley is going overboard to produce to prove that he is a big league hockey player and succeeding admirably.



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