Brad McCrimmon


Byron Brad McCrimmon (March 29, 1959 – September 7, 2011) was a Canadian professional ice hockey defenceman and coach. He played over 1,200 games in the National Hockey League (NHL) for the Boston Bruins, Philadelphia Flyers, Calgary Flames, Detroit Red Wings, Hartford Whalers and Phoenix Coyotes between 1979 and 1997. He achieved his greatest success in Calgary, where he was named a second team All-Star in 1987–88, played in the 1988 NHL All-Star Game and won the Plus-Minus Award with a league leading total of +48. In 1989, he helped the Flames win their only Stanley Cup championship. His career plus-minus of +444 is the 10th highest total in NHL history, and the highest among players not inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame.

Brad McCrimmon
Brad McCrimmon.jpg
McCrimmon with the Boston Bruins in 1979
Born (1959-03-29)March 29, 1959
Dodsland, Saskatchewan, Canada
Died September 7, 2011(2011-09-07) (aged 52)
Yaroslavl, Russia
Height 5 ft 11 in (180 cm)
Weight 193 lb (88 kg; 13 st 11 lb)
Position Defence
Shot Left
Played for Boston Bruins
Philadelphia Flyers
Calgary Flames
Detroit Red Wings
Hartford Whalers
Phoenix Coyotes
National team  Canada
NHL Draft 15th overall, 1979
Boston Bruins
Playing career 1979–1997
Medal record

McCrimmon turned to coaching following his playing career, serving as an assistant with the New York Islanders before taking over as head coach of the Western Hockey League's Saskatoon Blades for two seasons between 1998 and 2000. He then returned to the NHL as an assistant, first with the Flames then the Atlanta Thrashers and finally the Red Wings. He left the NHL to become the head coach of Lokomotiv Yaroslavl of the Kontinental Hockey League (KHL) in 2011. He never coached a regular season game however, as he was killed, along with most of the team, after their plane crashed en route to their first game.

Playing careerEdit


McCrimmon began his junior career at the age of 15 with the Prince Albert Raiders of the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League (SJHL). He played two seasons with the team, scoring 23 goals and 84 points.[1] In his second season, 1975–76, he was named the SJHL's defenceman of the year.[2] For the 1976–77 season, he moved up to the Brandon Wheat Kings of the Western Canada Hockey League (WCHL). He scored 84 points in 72 games in his first WCHL season and added 13 points in 15 playoff games as the Wheat Kings reached the league championship series, only to lose to the New Westminster Bruins.[3] McCrimmon scored 97 points in 1977–78 and 98 in 1978–79. He was named the defenceman of the year in 1978 and was named to the league all-star team in both seasons.[4][5] He also joined the Canadian junior team at the World Junior Championship in each season. He recorded two assists in six games to help Canada win a bronze medal at the 1978 tournament and had three points in five games in 1979 though Canada failed to medal.[6]

With McCrimmon as team captain,[7] the Wheat Kings again reached the league championship in 1978–79. He scored 28 points in 22 games to help Brandon win the President's Cup.[1][8] The team advanced to the 1979 Memorial Cup tournament where it reached the final against the Ontario Hockey League champion Peterborough Petes. McCrimmon routinely played a high number of minutes each game; his teammates marvelled at his stamina.[9] In the Memorial Cup final, he played virtually every minute of the contest. His total ice time was 60 minutes, 38 seconds, and he was off the ice only to serve a two-minute penalty.[10] Peterborough won the game, 2–1 in overtime, after McCrimmon lost the puck on a play he thought was icing was not called. Peterborough's Terry Bovair stole the puck from him and scored the championship winning goal.[11] Despite the loss, McCrimmon was named a tournament all-star on defence.[8]


At the 1979 NHL Entry Draft, considered one of the deepest in league history, McCrimmon was selected 15th overall by the Boston Bruins.[12] He made his NHL debut on October 11, 1979, in the team's opening night victory over the Winnipeg Jets.[13] He scored 5 goals and 16 points in his rookie season of 1979–80 and improved to 11 goals and 29 points in his second season.[8] With only nine points in the 1981–82 season, McCrimmon had gained a reputation as a player who did not attack with the puck in the NHL.[14] Following the retirement of Rogie Vachon, the Bruins needed a new goaltender.[8] They sent McCrimmon to the Philadelphia Flyers in exchange for Pete Peeters on June 9, 1982.[14]

Flyers' coach Bob McCammon argued that McCrimmon had been "intimidated" by playing with fellow 1979 Bruins pick and all-star, Ray Bourque, and that he could be a better overall defenceman.[15] McCrimmon's offence improved in his first two seasons in Philadelphia – 25 points in 1982–83 and 24, though without a goal scored, in 1983–84[8] but he established himself as a top shutdown defenceman with the Flyers.[16] He recorded 43 points in 1984–85 and posted a plus-minus rating of +52, fifth best in the NHL.[17] McCrimmon was ruled out of the 1985 Stanley Cup Playoffs in the third game of the league semi-final against the Quebec Nordiques when he suffered a third-degree separation of his left shoulder following a hard hit by Wilf Paiement, an injury that required surgery to repair.[18] The Flyers reached the final without McCrimmon, but were defeated by the Edmonton Oilers for the Stanley Cup.[19] McCrimmon returned to start the 1985–86 season, in which he had his best season statistically. He appeared in all 80 games for the Flyers and set career highs of 13 goals, 43 assists, 56 points and his plus-minus rating of +83 was second only to defensive partner Mark Howe.[16] He was named recipient of the Barry Ashbee Trophy as the Flyers' top defenceman.[20]

McCrimmon and the Flyers became embroiled in a contract dispute prior to the 1986–87 season. The two sides were unable to agree on a contract the season before, and an arbitrator was required to resolve the impasse. The arbitrator sided with the team, setting a contract at the Flyers' offer of US$165,000 for that season (he asked for $200,000), with an option to extend the deal for 1986–87. The Flyers exercised that option, and though he admitted he was under contract for the season, McCrimmon refused to play unless a new deal was reached. When the two sides were unable to come to an agreement, McCrimmon went home to Saskatchewan as the season began.[21] The Flyers suspended McCrimmon on September 26, 1986, after he refused to appear in the first exhibition games. The impasse was not resolved until a month later, when he and the team agreed to a one-year contract on October 29.[22] He immediately returned to the team and appeared in 72 of the Flyers' 80 games, recording 22 points and finishing fourth in the league at +45.[17] In the 1987 Stanley Cup Playoffs, he appeared in all 26 post-season games as the Flyers again reached the final against Edmonton. McCrimmon scored the game-winning goal in Game 3 but the Flyers lost the series, but not before they took the Oilers to seven games, the first time since 1971 a full seven game series had been played.

Following the season, general manager Bobby Clarke refused to sign a new deal with McCrimmon, choosing instead to trade him. He was sent to the Calgary Flames on August 27, 1987, in exchange for a third-round selection at the 1988 NHL Entry Draft and a first-rounder at the 1989 Draft.[23] On the 1987–88 Flames, McCrimmon joined Al MacInnis, Paul Reinhart, Gary Suter and Ric Nattress to form one of the top defences in the NHL.[24] He scored 42 points for the Flames, won the NHL Plus-Minus Award with a league-leading +48 and was named a second team All-Star. Additionally, he played in the 1988 All-Star Game.[7]

McCrimmon recorded only 22 points in 1988–89 – his lowest in seven seasons – but led all NHL defencemen with a +43 rating.[7] He appeared in all 22 playoff games for the Flames as the team defeated the Montreal Canadiens to win the first Stanley Cup championship in franchise history.[25] McCrimmon was named the 10th captain in Flames history on November 3, 1989, succeeding Lanny McDonald and Jim Peplinski, who both retired following the Stanley Cup win.[26] He scored 4 goals and 19 points during the 1989–90 season, but fell out of favour with head coach Terry Crisp as the two disagreed over how the team's defencemen were used.[27] The Flames chose to trade him following the season, sending him to the Detroit Red Wings on June 15, 1990, in exchange for a second-round draft pick.[8]

In 1991–92, McCrimmon was paired with a young Nicklas Lidström. Though he focused on defence, allowing Lidström to be more creative offensively,[28] McCrimmon's 29 points were a significant improvement on the 13 he scored the season before.[17] He played one more season in Detroit before again being traded, this time to the Hartford Whalers on June 1, 1993, in exchange for a sixth-round draft pick.[8] In Hartford, the 34-year-old McCrimmon served as a mentor for 18-year-old Chris Pronger.[29] Offensively, he scored 16 points total in three seasons with the Whalers between 1993 and 1996. Leaving the team as a free agent, McCrimmon signed with the Phoenix Coyotes for the 1996–97 season.[8] He appeared in 37 games that season, scoring one goal and adding five assists. Following the season, he announced his retirement.[30]

McCrimmon was paired with some of the best defencemen of his generation. In addition to Lidstrom and Pronger, he played with Hockey Hall of Famers Ray Bourque, Mark Howe and Paul Coffey. He was known as a stay at home defenceman who focused on limiting the opposition's chances.[31] He played a physical game, often in the "dirty" areas of the ice – battling opponents in the corners and in front of the net. McCrimmon's career plus-minus was +444, a total surpassed by only nine players as of 2012. Brian Propp, a teammate of his in Philadelphia, said that he was one of the most under-rated defencemen of his time.[32]

Coaching careerEdit

The Calgary Flames wear special uniforms honouring McCrimmon prior to an NHL game in 2011–12.

McCrimmon moved behind the bench shortly after his retirement, joining the New York Islanders as an assistant coach to Mike Milbury on August 19, 1997.[30] He left the team after two years to become head coach of the Saskatoon Blades of the Western Hockey League in 1999.[33] In two seasons with the team, he coached 144 games, winning 50 and tying 15.[34] McCrimmon coached the Blades to a second-place finish in the East Division in 1999–2000 and a seven-game opening round playoff victory over the Regina Pats before the team was eliminated by the Calgary Hitmen.[35]

Returning to the NHL in 2000, McCrimmon joined the Calgary Flames as an assistant to Don Hay.[36] He remained with the team for two and a half seasons, serving under both Hay and successor Greg Gilbert until the team replaced its coaching staff on December 3, 2002.[37] He returned to the NHL in 2004 as an assistant for the Atlanta Thrashers. He was promoted to associate coach in his fourth season when team general manager Don Waddell fired head coach Bob Hartley during the 2007–08 season.[38] McCrimmon had been offered the Thrashers head coaching position after Waddell's dismissal, but turned it down after the team failed to guarantee he would retain the position beyond the end of the season.[39] Leaving the Thrashers, McCrimmon signed a three-year contract with the Detroit Red Wings in 2008 to serve as an assistant coach.[40]

Looking to further his career, he left Detroit on May 19, 2011, and was introduced as head coach of Lokomotiv Yaroslavl of the Kontinental Hockey League (KHL) on May 29.[41] He hoped that coaching the Russian club would help him land an NHL head coaching position in the future.[42] He never coached a game for Lokomotiv, as he was killed in the 2011 Lokomotiv Yaroslavl plane crash en route to their first game of the season. McCrimmon died along with nearly the entire team.[43]

Personal lifeEdit

McCrimmon was born in Dodsland, Saskatchewan, but grew up on the family farm near the village of Plenty. He often returned to his hometown during his playing days, spending his summers training on the family farm.[44] He brought the Stanley Cup back to Plenty in 1989 after winning it with the Flames, fulfilling a promise McCrimmon made to his grandfather as a youth.[45]

Hockey was a significant part of McCrimmon's life from his youth. His father Byron was a long time senior player and coach for the Rosetown Red Wings in Saskatchewan. The younger McCrimmon played for teams in both Plenty and Rosetown at the same time, often appearing on teams one level above his age.[46] His younger brother Kelly is the general manager for the Vegas Golden Knights, and the pair played together as teammates with the Wheat Kings in 1978–79.[47]

Nicknamed both "Beast" and "Sarge," McCrimmon was often considered "gruff" and had a direct way of speaking that cultivated respect amongst his peers.[48] According to former teammate Lanny McDonald: "He was tough, he was abrasive, but on the inside he was a big teddy bear, a big softie."[49] McCrimmon's brother remembered him as a person who dedicated himself to his family.[47] McCrimmon had two children with his wife Maureen: daughter Carlin and son Liam.[1]

Career statisticsEdit

Regular season and playoffsEdit

    Regular season   Playoffs
Season Team League GP G A Pts PIM GP G A Pts PIM
1974–75 Prince Albert Raiders SJHL 38 4 22 26
1975–76 Prince Albert Raiders SJHL 46 19 39 58 126
1976–77 Brandon Wheat Kings WCHL 72 18 66 84 96 15 3 10 13 16
1977–78 Brandon Wheat Kings WCHL 65 19 78 97 245 8 2 11 13 20
1978–79 Brandon Wheat Kings WHL 66 24 74 98 139 22 9 19 28 34
1978–79 Brandon Wheat Kings M-Cup 5 0 5 5 10
1979–80 Boston Bruins NHL 72 5 11 16 94 10 1 1 2 28
1980–81 Boston Bruins NHL 78 11 18 29 148 3 0 1 1 2
1981–82 Boston Bruins NHL 78 1 8 9 83 2 0 0 0 2
1982–83 Philadelphia Flyers NHL 79 4 21 25 61 3 0 0 0 4
1983–84 Philadelphia Flyers NHL 71 0 24 24 76 1 0 0 0 4
1984–85 Philadelphia Flyers NHL 66 8 35 43 81 11 2 1 3 15
1985–86 Philadelphia Flyers NHL 80 13 43 56 85 5 2 0 2 2
1986–87 Philadelphia Flyers NHL 71 10 29 39 52 26 3 5 8 30
1987–88 Calgary Flames NHL 80 7 35 42 98 9 2 3 5 22
1988–89 Calgary Flames NHL 72 5 17 22 96 22 0 3 3 30
1989–90 Calgary Flames NHL 79 4 15 19 78 6 0 2 2 8
1990–91 Detroit Red Wings NHL 64 0 13 13 81 7 1 1 2 21
1991–92 Detroit Red Wings NHL 79 7 22 29 118 11 0 1 1 8
1992–93 Detroit Red Wings NHL 60 1 14 15 71
1993–94 Hartford Whalers NHL 65 1 5 6 72
1994–95 Hartford Whalers NHL 33 0 1 1 42
1995–96 Hartford Whalers NHL 58 3 6 9 62
1996–97 Phoenix Coyotes NHL 37 1 5 6 18
NHL totals 1222 81 322 403 1416 116 11 18 29 176


Year Team Event   GP G A Pts PIM
1978 Canada WJC 6 0 2 2 4
1979 Canada WJC 5 1 2 3 2
Junior totals 11 1 4 5 6


Season Team League Regular season Post season
G W L T OTL Pct Division rank Result
1998–99 Saskatoon Blades WHL 72 16 49 7 .271 6th East Did not qualify
1999–00 Saskatoon Blades WHL 72 34 30 8 3 .549 2nd East Lost in second round
WHL totals 144 50 76 15 3 .410

Awards and honoursEdit

Award Year
SJHL Defenceman of the Year 1975–76 [2]
WCHL Second All-Star Team 1976–77
Bill Hunter Memorial Trophy 1977–78 [4]
WCHL/WHL First All-Star Team 1977–78
Memorial Cup All-Star Team 1979 [8]
Stanley Cup champion 1989
Second Team All-Star 1987–88 [50]
NHL Plus-Minus Award 1987–88 [51]
Philadelphia Flyers
Barry Ashbee Trophy 1984–85 [20]

See alsoEdit


  • Career Statistics: "Brad McCrimmon player card". National Hockey League. Retrieved 2012-11-05.
  1. ^ a b c "A look at the life and career of Brad McCrimmon". Global Television Saskatoon. 2011-09-07. Retrieved 2012-04-14.[permanent dead link]
  2. ^ a b "Past award winners". Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League. Archived from the original on 2011-07-22. Retrieved 2012-11-05.
  3. ^ Flett, Cory; Watts, Jessie (2009). 2008–09 WHL Guide. Western Hockey League. p. 185.
  4. ^ a b Flett, Cory; Watts, Jessie (2009). 2008–09 WHL Guide. Western Hockey League. p. 208.
  5. ^ a b Flett, Cory; Watts, Jessie (2009). 2008–09 WHL Guide. Western Hockey League. p. 204.
  6. ^ Podnieks, Andrew, ed. (2011). IIHF Guide & Record Book 2012. International Ice Hockey Federation. p. 497. ISBN 978-0-7710-9598-6.
  7. ^ a b c Ornest, Leo, ed. (1989). 1989–90 Calgary Flames Media Guide. Calgary Flames Hockey Club. p. 36.
  8. ^ a b c d e f g h i "Brad McCrimmon player profile". Hockey Hall of Fame. Retrieved 2012-04-14.
  9. ^ Henderson, Rob (2011-09-09). "Remembering Brad McCrimmon". Brandon Sun. Brandon Wheat Kings Hockey Club. Retrieved 2012-04-14.
  10. ^ Maki, Allan (2011-09-07). "Saying goodbye to Brad McCrimmon". Globe and Mail. Retrieved 2012-11-05.
  11. ^ Lapp, Richard; Macaulay, Alec (1997). The Memorial Cup. Harbour Publishing. p. 191. ISBN 1-55017-170-4.
  12. ^ Wharnsby, Tim (2010-12-08). "McCrimmon has designs on becoming a head coach". Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 2012-04-15.
  13. ^ Rosa, Francis (1979-10-12). "Bruins ground Jets, 4–0". Boston Globe. p. 23. Retrieved 2012-04-15.
  14. ^ a b "Bruins obtain Pete Peeters". Bangor Daily News. 1982-06-10. p. 22. Retrieved 2012-04-15.
  15. ^ "Flyers trade Peeters to Boston for McCrimmon". Reading Eagle. 1982-06-10. p. 37. Retrieved 2012-04-15.
  16. ^ a b Ornest, Leo, ed. (1987). 1987–88 Calgary Flames Media Guide. Calgary Flames Hockey Club. p. 27.
  17. ^ a b c "Brad McCrimmon statistics". Sports Reference LLC. Retrieved 2012-04-15.
  18. ^ Moriarty, Tim (1985-05-10). "Philadelphia depth prevails after opening-period injury". The Courier (Prescott, AZ). p. 11A. Retrieved 2012-04-15.
  19. ^ "Oilers defeat Flyers to win Stanley Cup". Bangor Daily News. 1985-06-01. p. 15. Retrieved 2012-04-15.
  20. ^ a b Sherman, David (2003). The Philadelphia Flyers Encyclopedia. Sports Publishing LLC. p. 107. ISBN 1-58261-577-2.
  21. ^ "McCrimmon on skates without his teammates". Calgary Herald. 1986-10-18. p. C3. Retrieved 2012-04-15.
  22. ^ "McCrimmon inks Flyer pact". Vancouver Sun. 1986-10-30. p. F1. Retrieved 2012-04-15.
  23. ^ Orr, Frank (1987-09-02). "Flyers seeking replacement for McCrimmon". Toronto Star. p. H4. Retrieved 2012-04-15.
  24. ^ Mummery, Bob (1989). Countdown to the Stanley Cup: An Illustrated History of the Calgary Flames. Polestar Book Publishers. p. 98. ISBN 0-919591-48-5.
  25. ^ Duhatschek, Eric (1989-05-26). "Stanley Cup: Ours at last". Calgary Herald. p. A1.
  26. ^ Hanlon, Peter; Kelso, Sean; Ahrens, Janette; Buer, Greg (2011). 2011–12 Calgary Flames Media Guide. Calgary Flames Hockey Club. p. 140.
  27. ^ Duhatschek, Eric (1990-06-16). "Sarge declines to wing parting shots". Calgary Herald. p. F1.
  28. ^ "Brad McCrimmon obituary". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 2012-04-17.
  29. ^ Bernstein, Viv (1993-09-16). "A team within Whalers Pronger can learn from McCrimmon McCrimmon helps Pronger adjust". Hartford Courant. p. C1. Retrieved 2012-04-17.
  30. ^ a b "McCrimmon joins Isles as aide". New York Times. 1997-08-20. Retrieved 2012-04-17.
  31. ^ "Hundreds gather to pay tribute to McCrimmon". Toronto Sun. 2011-09-17. Retrieved 2012-04-27.
  32. ^ Seravalli, Frank (2011-09-09). "Is Brad McCrimmon Hall of Fame worthy?". Retrieved 2012-04-27.
  33. ^ Pyette, Ryan (2011-09-17). "Hundreds gather to pay tribute to McCrimmon". London Free Press. Retrieved 2012-04-17.
  34. ^ Flett, Cory; Watts, Jessie (2009). 2008–09 WHL Guide. Western Hockey League. p. 193.
  35. ^ Flett, Cory; Watts, Jessie (2009). 2008–09 WHL Guide. Western Hockey League. p. 165.
  36. ^ "Hay named Flames coach". The Record-Journal (Meriden, CT). 2000-08-02. p. 19. Retrieved 2012-04-17.
  37. ^ "Struggling Flames fire Gilbert". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. 2002-12-03. p. D6. Retrieved 2012-04-17.
  38. ^ "Thrashers promote McCrimmon to associate coach; move could pave way for him to succeed Waddell". USA Today. 2008-01-01. Retrieved 2012-04-17.
  39. ^ Malik, George James (2008-07-21). "Red Wings hire McCrimmon as assistant coach". Michigan Live. Archived from the original on 2012-10-24. Retrieved 2012-04-27.
  40. ^ "Brad McCrimmon rejoins Red Wings as assistant". Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. 2008-08-04. Retrieved 2012-04-17.
  41. ^ Kimelman, Adam (2011-09-07). "New coach McCrimmon carved lengthy NHL career". National Hockey League. Retrieved 2012-04-17.
  42. ^ Francis, Eric (2011-09-07). "Dream dies with McCrimmon in Russian plane crash". Calgary Sun. Archived from the original on 2011-11-04. Retrieved 2012-04-17.
  43. ^ "Plane carrying KHL team crashes". ESPN. 2011-09-08. Retrieved 2012-04-17.
  44. ^ "Brad McCrimmon mourned in hometown". Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. 2011-09-07. Retrieved 2012-04-21.
  45. ^ Gave, Keith (1992-04-17). "To Canadians, Stanley Cup Is Holy Grail – Childhood Promise To Grandpa Inspires Red Wings' Mccrimmon". Seattle Times. Retrieved 2012-04-27.
  46. ^ Daniels, Calvin (2005). Guts and Go Overtime. Toronto: Heritage House Publishing Company Ltd. pp. 98–99. ISBN 1-894974-02-6.
  47. ^ a b Lawless, Gary (2011-09-08). "Brother remembers Brad as 'my hero'". Winnipeg Free Press. p. C1. Retrieved 2012-04-27.
  48. ^ Cruickshank, Scott (2011-09-08). "Flames recall 'Beast' as smart, honest". Calgary Herald. p. F1.
  49. ^ Johnson, George (2011-09-08). "'The Beast' was a warrior and the last of a breed". Calgary Herald. p. A3.
  50. ^ Hanlon, Peter; Kelso, Sean; Ahrens, Janette; Buer, Greg (2011). 2011–12 Calgary Flames Media Guide. Calgary Flames Hockey Club. p. 26.
  51. ^ Hanlon, Peter; Kelso, Sean; Ahrens, Janette; Buer, Greg (2011). 2011–12 Calgary Flames Media Guide. Calgary Flames Hockey Club. p. 27.

External linksEdit

  • Biographical information and career statistics from, or, or The Internet Hockey Database
Preceded by Boston Bruins first round draft pick
Succeeded by
Preceded by Calgary Flames captain
Succeeded by
Rotating captains
Preceded by Winner of the NHL Plus/Minus Award
Succeeded by