Doug Crossman

Doug Crossman, a Mike Keenan favorite, was a reliable defender and a great team guy. He was part of both the 1985 and 1987 Philadelphia teams that challenged for the Stanley Cup, and was part of the victorious 1987 Canada Cup team. He would play in over 900 NHL games and scored 464 points. He could move the puck so the fact that he could always find a NHL job on someone's blue line should not be surprising.

But when you break down his game, you have to wonder just how he did it.

There have been few better passers from the back end. He was an outstanding puckhandler and a great breakout passer, able to read the ice and key the transition offense. He'd jump into rushes and pinch at the blue line with great efficiency, but frustratingly he seemed to rarely release his above average shot. Yet defensively he had trouble reading the play when it was coming towards him.

His defensive problems were further exacerbated by his lack of speed and lateral mobility. He was a smooth skater backwards and forward, but he could be caught by surprise and unable to catch up. He wasn't a physical player and was down right weak in terms of upper body strength. He tried to rely on his quick stick and anticipation, though early in his career especially he would wander too far out of position.

Though he always remained a bit of an adventure in his own zone, over the years experience certainly helped him out. But that sounds like a pretty lethal mix to be throwing out against the 1980s Oilers of the Soviet national team in 1987.

Part of it was timing. Crossman's career seemed to peak in 1987, with a strong playoff (18 points in 26 games). After a short summer break Keenan included him on Team Canada and he did not look out of place against the extremely quick Soviets.

Crossman survived as a very heady defenseman, able to play either the right or left side with equal proficiency. The Flyers acquired him from Chicago hoping he'd be a mirror compliment to the great Mark Howe, but he never lived up to those expectations. His success in 1987, his qualities in the dressing room and NHL expansion led to an elongated career, with subsequent stops with LA, New York Islanders, Hartford, Detroit, Tampa Bay and St. Louis.


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