The American Hockey League is remembering Joe Crozier, who passed away Tuesday at the age of 93.
Crozier, a 2012 inductee into the AHL Hall of Fame, was one of the most identifiable figures in Rochester Americans franchise history, coaching the team to five Calder Cup Finals appearances and winning championships in 1965, 1966 and 1968. He was a charter member of the Amerks Hall of Fame in 1986.
A native of Winnipeg, Crozier played 12 professional seasons as a defenseman, making AHL stops with the Springfield Indians and Providence Reds before he first joined the Amerks in 1959-60. Crozier helped Rochester reach the Finals that season, and then closed out his playing career the following year.
In 1963, Crozier returned to Rochester to become the young franchise’s ninth head coach in eight seasons, and in 1964-65, after he added the duties of general manager, Crozier’s club was the class of the American Hockey League. They went 48-21-3, setting a team record for wins that would stand for 34 years, then dispatched Quebec and Hershey to capture the franchise’s first Calder Cup.
Crozier kept his Amerks on top of the league in 1965-66, winning a second consecutive Calder Cup after another dominating regular season. And following a loss to Pittsburgh in the 1967 Finals, he became the third head coach in AHL history to win three Calder Cups when Rochester reclaimed the title in 1968.
Crozier left Rochester in 1968 and made several additional coaching stops, including the Buffalo Sabres and Toronto Maple Leafs in the National Hockey League and the Cincinnati Swords and New Brunswick Hawks in the AHL. He returned to the Amerks for one last season in 1983-84, and guided the club to yet another Finals appearance before retiring from coaching.
During his six full seasons as an AHL head coach, Crozier reached five Finals and won three league championships. Two other seasons in the AHL were cut short when he was promoted to coaching positions in the National Hockey League.
With a career record of 305-199-46, Crozier owned a .596 lifetime winning percentage and is one of 21 members of the AHL’s 300-win fraternity. His Rochester Americans of the late 60’s remain the only team in league history to reach four consecutive Calder Cup Finals.