The Rochester Americans will honor the life and memory of legendary head coach Joe Crozier with a commemorative jersey patch for the remainder of the 2022-23 season. The Amerks Hall of Famer passed away on Oct. 11 at the age of 93.
The patch, which will adorn both home and away sweaters, features Crozier’s initials displayed above Rochester’s icnonic shield in the traditional Amerks red, white and blue colors with three stars emblematic of the three Calder Cup championships he won with Rochester in 1965, 1966 and 1968. The predominantly red body of the patch pays homage to the early days of the franchise, of which he was the key architect.
Perhaps one of the most iconic figures in Amerks franchise history, Crozier was instrumental in the formation of one of the American Hockey League’s most successful and distinguished organizations through an impressive run of achievements. Crozier guided the Amerks through the “Golden Age,” winning the franchise’s first three Calder Cup championships in four years while cementing Rochester’s status in the hockey world.
After wrapping up his 12-year playing career as a defenseman with the Amerks in 1960-61, Crozier returned to Rochester to become the young franchise’s ninth head coach in eight seasons in 1963.
Since that time, the “Golden Age” of the Flower City’s franchise has been synonymous with his name. In the fall of 1963, Crozier turned a team that had finished a dismal 24-39-9 just the year before into a 40-30-2 team that finished second in the Western Division of the AHL, just one point behind Pittsburgh, soon becoming the class of the American Hockey League.
The next year, after adding the duties of general manager, he led the Amerks to a first-place finish in the West and brought Rochester its first Calder Cup championship, a feat he repeated the next year as well. Crozier experienced a minor setback in 1966-67 when his club lost in the semifinals but rebounded in a big way the next year with another first-place finish and his third Calder Cup in four years, becoming the third head coach in league history to win three Calder Cups when Rochester reclaimed the title in 1968.
After successful coaching stints in Cincinnati, Buffalo, New Brunswick and Toronto, Crozier made a triumphant return to Rochester in 1983-84, leading the Amerks to the Calder Cup finals once again before retiring from coaching at the conclusion of the season.
In three seasons as Buffalo’s head coach, Crozier compiled a 77-80-35 record and led the Sabres to the franchise’s first playoff appearance in 1972-73. Crozier, who took over behind the bench after Punch Imlach was forced to step down due to health concerns, is perhaps best known for the creation of the French Connection line, consisting of the trio of Gilbert Perreault, Rick Martin and Rene Robert, the greatest line in Sabres history.
In six memorable years as coach of the Amerks, Crozier compiled a record of 260-155-30, making him the winningest coach at the time. He is one of only six head coaches to win at least three Calder Cups, and only Fred “Bun” Cook has won more (seven).
In the 66-year history of the Amerks, Crozier ranks third all-time in coaching victories and first in points percentage among Amerks coaches with more than 100 victories. In addition to winning three Calder Cups as Amerks head coach, Crozier also posted a 39-27 record in the postseason, guiding Rochester to a berth in the finals in five of his six years behind the bench.
With a career record of 305-199-46, Crozier’s .596 lifetime winning percentage ranks second among the 16 members of the AHL’s 300-win fraternity, and his Rochester Americans of the late 60’s remain the only team in league history to reach four consecutive Calder Cup Finals.
He was a charter member of the Amerks Hall of Fame in 1986 and was later inducted into the American Hockey League Hall of Fame on Jan. 30, 2012, as part of the Class of 2012. He’s also a member of the Buffalo Sabres Hall of Fame.