Former Lincolns’ centre played for great hockey men like Fred Shero, Scotty Bowman
By Pat Payton
Terry Crisp was a member of the Broad Street Bullies.
And playing for those notorious Philadelphia Flyers teams in the mid-1970s helped shape Crisp’s future coaching career.
Crisp was a member of two Stanley Cup championship teams in Philadelphia (1973-74 and 1974-75), and he later coached Calgary Flames (1988-89) to the league title. He’s on a short list of just 14 men who have played on a Stanley Cup winner and also coached one.
In a recent telephone interview with the Independent, the former St. Marys Lincolns’ centre (1959-61) said he was “blessed” in his career to play for great coaches like Fred Shero (Philadelphia) and Scotty Bowman (St. Louis).
Crisp was caught off guard at the trade deadline during the 1972-73 season when the New York Islanders dealt him to Philadelphia, but it couldn’t have come at a better time.
“When I joined the Flyers, in my first meeting with Freddie, I asked him why he picked me up,” Crisp recalled. “He told me ‘you’re one of the pieces I need here.’ I asked him why, and he said ‘because you’re an excellent penalty-killer, one of the better penalty-killers in the NHL and we’re going to need that.’
“He had guys like me, Billy Clement, Bob Kelly and Orest Kindrachuk, who could all kill penalties. He was already laying the groundwork for the future. In some games, as a penalty-killer, I got more ice time than a lot of guys.”
Recalls first Cup in Philly
Crisp fondly remembers winning their first Cup at the Philadelphia Spectrum on a Sunday afternoon in the spring of 1974. Flyers beat Bobby Orr and the Boston Bruins 1-0 to take the final series in six games.
Sniper Rick MacLeish scored the game’s only goal, and goalie Bernie Parent was unbeatable. Parent preserved his shutout with a huge save on Bruins’ winger Ken Hodge late in the third period.
“When Hodge shot that puck, we thought the game was tied up,” Crisp recalled. “We all looked at each other, and said, ‘what the hell just happened? How did Bernie get from one side of the net to the other that quick?’ I remember that save so vividly. It was the last good scoring chance the Bruins had on him.”
Shero paid him ultimate compliment
Crisp remembers that game for another reason. Not only did he help the Flyers win a Stanley Cup, but coach Shero paid him the ultimate compliment. Clinging to a 1-0 lead, Shero put a lot of faith in Crisp when he put him out on the ice for the final minute. The coach told the veteran centre that he had one job to do — shadow Bruins’ superstar Bobby Orr.
“Bobby Orr had tripped Bobby Clarke on a breakaway and took a penalty with under three minutes to play,” Crisp recalled vividly. “With just over a minute left, Freddie tapped me on the shoulder and said you’re going out.
“He told me, ‘Bobby Orr is yours. When you hit the ice, you watch the penalty box . . . nothing else. When he comes out of that penalty box, you stick with him.’ I said to myself, ‘Bobby Orr and I have to contain him? It’s probably the biggest compliment Freddie ever paid me.
“When I stepped on the ice, I didn’t care where the puck was. I just watched that penalty box door and the clock. After Orr jumped out of the penalty box, we got a break because he iced the puck. But there was no call, and Joey Watson held onto the puck behind the net until the buzzer went.”
Turned into a checker
In Junior and early in his pro career, Crisp said he was always a goal-scorer, but that all changed when he was taken by St. Louis in the 1967 NHL expansion draft. Coach Bowman turned him into a defensive specialist.
“I was a goal-scorer my entire life . . . in minor hockey, Jr. ‘B’, Major Jr. ‘A’ and in the minors. I had my best year in the minors, 38 goals, before I joined St. Louis. But when I went to the Blues, Bowman told me I was a checker.
“Scotty turned me into a checker, but I would have driven the zamboni to stay in the NHL. You have to park your ego at the door in the NHL because it’s a whole new realm. If he wanted me to be a checker, I was determined to be the best checker he had. Later, when I got traded to the Flyers, it was because of what Scotty Bowman taught me in St. Louis.”
Crisp described Shero and Bowman as “polar opposites” when it came to coaching, but he said he learned a lot from both brilliant hockey men.
“Scotty was a task master, and had to have his finger on everything and control everything,” he remembers. “But Freddie gave everyone free rein. I was fortunate to work under both of them, and both were successful.
“Don’t forget, under Scotty, we went to the Stanley Cup final three years in a row in St. Louis. We didn’t win one, but we were there. Scotty was ahead of his time, too. He lived and breathed hockey 26 hours a day. He never rested. I loved playing for both guys. And before that, I got to play four years under Harry Sinden (in the Boston organization).”
Remembers parade of 1974
Crisp also knows he was “very fortunate” to get traded to the Flyers late in his playing career.
He says he will always remember the Stanley Cup parade through the streets of Philadelphia in the spring of 1974. The team planned for a 45-minute event, but the parade lasted four hours. Two million people lined the streets to honour the champion Flyers.
“It was unreal,” Crisp recalled. “We were in convertibles going down Broad Street. The people were jamming the cars and we couldn’t move. We sat and sat and sat, and finally the policemen on motorcycles with German shepards cleared the way. It was crazy, but great to be a part of.”
Today, it’s still the largest public gathering in the history of the city.