Pete, Bob Crawford have lofty goals for Springfield Jr. Blues

By Derek Berry

When you hear the last name Crawford on various levels in the hockey
world, whether it be amateur or professional, chances are people will
know the name.

It’s no surprise that Pete Crawford, general manager of the North
American Hockey League’s (NAHL) Springfield Jr. Blues is where he is and
has a burning desire to win.

Just like the rest of his highly competitive family.

Pete Crawford is one of nine brothers and sisters, a good majority of
whom have some type of job in hockey or sports in general.

Besides Pete, there is Bob who also is involved with Springfield and
owns the Connecticut Clippers of the Metropolitan Hockey League. Bob
also owns a team in Canada, and runs a hockey rink business on the east
coast. Brother Louie is the head coach of St. John’s, the top minor
league affiliate for the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Todd Crawford is a former Olympic bobsledder; Eric Crawford is the video
coordinator for the Vancouver Canucks; and the head coach of the Canucks
is none other than Marc Crawford, perhaps the most famous of the
brothers’ Crawford, who lead the Colorado Avalanche to the 1996 Stanley
Cup and battled the Detroit Red Wings for several years as the Avs’
leader.

Oh, and don’t forget dad Floyd Crawford, who still keeps his hand in the
sport as head of scouting for the Ontario Hockey League’s (OHL)
Belleville Bulls.

Pete attributes his success and desire to be the best at whatever he
does to his family.

“I’m from a very competitive family and I’m a competitive person,” says
Pete, a former hockey player himself. “Many of us in the family are
involved in the sport and we all want to win.”

Brother Bob will tell you in jest that putting food on the table is the
real reason, but mostly it’s the competitive and success-driven nature
of the Crawfords.

Pete and his siblings were raised in Belleville, Ontario, where
everybody played hockey. Pete himself played junior hockey in
Collingwood, then later for Union College, which disbanded its program
in the late 1970′s. He also played in the International Hockey League
(IHL) for five years winning championships with the Kalamazoo K-Wings
and Toledo, among others.

“I hate to lose, like everybody else,” he says.

Pete firmly believes he can take this Springfield team to the top in no
time. Although Pete has been involved with the Jr. Blues since 1993, he
only took over as general manager just prior to the draft when they
officially joined the NAHL. He runs the team with brother Bob and
several others from the Springfield and Chicago areas, including Jack
Rankin, former president of the Michigan National Hockey League.

“This team would have folded if we hadn’t taken it over,” said Pete.

“We had about three days to get kids signed and recruited.”

Head Coach Craig Heggs, hired literally at draft time, won’t argue about
the quick pace involved in the entire process. But, Heggs believes in
Pete Crawford’s system even in the short time he’s been with
Springfield.

“Guys like Pete are true hockey people,” says Heggs, a former assistant
with the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point. “Pete and Bob have
roots at every level of hockey, they know hockey, they want a positive
attitude and they are very professional.”

And there better be plenty of positive attitude on this year’s edition
of the Springfield Jr. Blues, with only five veterans returning from
last season. It could make for a painful growing process.
Still though, Pete Crawford expects to win.

“Everyone picked us to finish dead last in the league because we didn’t
get the chance to do all of that recruiting,” Pete says. “But, we’re
thrilled with this club. We have the kind of team that’s going to
battle every night.”

Crawford goes on to say that any team that enters the Nelson Center is
in for a physical battle.

He believes the Blues should win the national title every year…even this
year.

“There’s no reason why we can’t win it all this year,” says Pete.
There’s certainly many variables in place that could signal an early
title in this young organization. Pete believes very strongly in coach
Heggs and assistant Titus Dare – formerly with the parent club, the St.
Louis Blues – who’s been involved in hockey for 25 years.

“Both of our coaches work very hard,” says the general manager with the
Glen Sather-mind set. “Craig and Titus are very in-line with our
philosophy of getting the players to work hard on every shift.”

Pete also has high goals for his coaches and even more importantly, his
players.

“I want our coaches to succeed and move up. They, along with our entire
front office staff, are outstanding,” he says. “We also want the
players to move up too.”

In fact, Pete says the organization’s goal is to move 10-12 players each
year up to the college or minor league level. “We want to develop the
kids, take care of them and move them on.”

Does his brother agree?

“We’re in a position to win every night even though we’re in our first
year,” says Bob Crawford, who acts as a sounding board for the Jr.
Blues, handling issues with the NAHL. “Are we going to? I don’t know.
But we will compete. Pete is a tireless worker and I have no doubt that
he can be the best.”

Most of all Pete wants to do it for the people of Springfield and the
loyal fans that love their Jr. Blues.

“Springfield fans are very loyal, very boisterous,” he says. “We’ve
lead the league the last five years in attendance and we want to build a
winner for people here.”

You would have no doubt listening to Pete Crawford, knowing the hockey
family that he’s from, that he will succeed.

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