JOE CROZIER February 2, 1919 - October 11, 2022
Joe "The Crow" Crozier, entered into rest on October 11, 2022 at age 93. Beloved husband of 48 years to Veronica "Bonnie" (nee Sheehan) Crozier; devoted father Shayne (Marianne) Crozier, Erin Crozier, Jamie (Teresa) Crozier, J. Richard (Rebecca) Crozier and Gregory (Kristina) Crozier; cherished grandfather of Joseph, Jacob, Brynn, Sydney, Olivia, Lily, Layla, Grayson, Easton, Riley and Shae; loving son of the late John and Annie (nee Conacher) Crozier; dear brother of seven siblings; also survived by loving nieces and nephews.
Joe was born in 1929 in Winnipeg, Manitoba and was one of eight children born to John and Annie (Conacher) Crozier. And while Manitoba was his birthplace, Joe quickly made his "home" on the ice hockey rink. Joe began his legendary career in professional ice hockey in 1947 as a defenceman for the Brandon Wheat Kings of the Manitoba Junior Hockey League, where he was named to the Second All-Star Team in 1948 and the First All-Star Team in 1949.
Joe also played professionally for the San Francisco Shamrocks and the Vancouver Canucks of the Pacific Coast Hockey League, the Denver Falcons of the United States Hockey League, the Quebec Aces of the Quebec Senior Hockey League, the Spokane Spokes of the Western Hockey League, and the Springfield Indians, Providence Reds, and Rochester Americans of the American Hockey League. Joe hit the pinnacle of his professional playing career as a defenseman for the Toronto Maple Leafs of the National Hockey League during the 1959-60 season.
Following his retirement as a player, Joe found success behind the bench as Head Coach for the Quebec Aces and Spokane Comets of the Western Hockey League, the Charlotte Checkers of the Eastern Hockey League, Rochester Americans, Vancouver Canucks, Cincinnati Swords and New Brunswick Hawks of the American Hockey League, the Vancouver Blazers and Calgary Cowboys of the World Hockey Association, the Kitchener Rangers of the Ontario Hockey League, and ultimately, the Buffalo Sabres and Toronto Maple Leafs of the National Hockey League.
Joe's achievements as a professional coach include winning three Calder Cup Championships for the Rochester Americans in 1965, 1966 and 1968, leading the Buffalo Sabres to their first ever playoff berth in 1972, and putting together the Sabres' most historically famous forward line of Gilbert Perrault, Rene Robert and Rick Martin - the "French Connection". Joe was honored with the NHL's Coach of the Year Award in 1972 by "The Hockey News" at the conclusion of that storied Sabres' season. Joe also led the Kitchener Rangers to a dual-championship season in 1982, winning the J. Ross Robertson Cup and the Rangers' first ever Memorial Cup as champions of the Canadian Hockey League.
Following his retirement from professional hockey, Joe joined the Buffalo Sabres' front office where his combined efforts as scout, consultant and ticket salesperson for the team added to his resume and culminated in Joe's induction into the Buffalo Sabres' Hall of Fame in 2010. Two years later, Joe was inducted into the American Hockey League Hall of Fame - one of his proudest moments - for his achievements as a player, coach and general manager for the Rochester Americans. As Don Cherry - a longtime friend, who also played for Joe in Rochester - said in Joe's AHL Hall of Fame induction video, "He did it all." Joe is also a member of the Manitoba Hockey Hall of Fame (1985) and Rochester Americans Hall of Fame (1986).
A longtime supporter of amateur athletic programs, including the Hobart Statesmen, Michigan Wolverines, and the St. Joe's Marauders of Kenmore, NY, Joe's passion and unconditional love for the game of ice hockey never faded.
While Joe will always be known for his highly successful career and dedication to his sport of ice hockey, he is known to his family simply as "Papa." Forever emphasizing a family-first approach, "Papa Joe" remained the dedicated patriarch of his family for his entire life. Throughout all of his years of accomplishments, the greatest legacy Joe bestowed on his family, his community and his teams, was his unconditional belief that it is the people in our lives, and the relationships we hold close, that truly matters. While championships and winning were common, Joe's real victories were his daily interactions with others.
In lieu of flowers, contributions in Joe's memory may be made to the St. Joseph's Collegiate Institute Endowment Fund, 845 Kenmore Ave., Buffalo, NY 14223.