A lot of Stars fans are dwelling on the recent failures of Marc Crawford in Los Angeles, and his rather messy exit from the Vancouver Canucks. He was criticized for failing to translate regular season success into playoff series wins in Vancouver. Sound familiar?
Rather than trying to figure out where he went wrong with those teams, let's look at the commonalities of his teams that advanced to at least the second round...
Goal scoring. Plain and simple. Crawford is known as someone who likes to get the offense flowing and get the puck moving up and down the ice; Something with which the Stars are not particularly synonymous.
When Mattias Norstrum was traded to the Stars in the spring of 2007 from the Marc Crawford coached Kings, he remarked how different the two systems were, observing that the Stars were encouraged to make D to D passes and to have patience. He said the Kings puck movement was strictly up and down the ice. Quickly.
Marc Crawford coached teams have advanced to at least the second round three times. In 95/96 he won a Stanley Cup in Colorado's first season. The next year they went to the Conference Finals, and in 02/03 he led the Canucks to the second round where they lost to the Wild in 7 games.
1995/1996: Stanley Cup Champs.
-Only one team (Pittsburgh) scored more goals that season than the Avalanche did (326)
-Crawford had two of the league's top 5 scorers: #3 Sakic (120 points) and #5 Peter Forsberg (116 points)
-Crawford had Patrick Roy
1996/1997: Conference Finalists
-Once again only the Penguins scored more than the Avs did (277)
-Patrick Roy. What can you say?
2002/2003: Conference Semi-finalists
-Canucks scored 264 goals, second only to the Red Wings.
-Canucks had two of the league's top scorers: #2 Naslund (104 points) and #5 Bertuzzi (97 points)
Playoff success in only three seasons, and all three years his team was the second highest scoring team in the league. Two of the three years he had not one, but TWO top 5 scorers in the league.
The other side of the coin is that his coaching was the reason why these players and teams were so high scoring. That may be so, but a look over that list of players again reveals talent of all kinds: Physical, God-given, and coached...
Over the course of the last decade, the Stars haven't been a top 5 scoring team, much less a top 2. They don't have top 10 scoring players, much less top 5. It's not who they've been, and it likely won't be what they'll turn into. Mike Ribeiro is a wizard, and Brad Richards is a point a game guy when he's at his best, but they're not going to dominate the league Sakic/Forsberg style.
This is not to say that having an offensive juggernaut is the only way Marc Crawford can win in the future; It's just the only way he's ever had success in the past
Joe Nieuwendyk is surely aware of all of this, and as he'll be the one shopping for the proverbial groceries, I hope none of that deters him from keeping his shopping cart pointed squarely at the defensive end of the rink this off-season.