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Marc Crawford won't return to ZSC Lions, eyes NHL return

Add Marc Crawford to the list of names on the free agent coaching market. Following ZSC Lions’ shocking playoff exit in the Swiss league on Thursday, the team has decided not to renew the 55-year-old's contract

Crawford’s top-seeded side was swept in the first-round of the National League A playoffs by eighth-seeded SC Bern, who fired former NHL head coach Guy Boucher in November. The loss also meant the end of Auston Matthews’ career in Europe.

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After being hired by ZSC in 2012, Crawford led the Lions to the league title in 2014 and Swiss Cup earlier this season. He also added Matthews to the list of young players he helped thrived while behind the bench.

"After four years, I think we need a new impulse and he needs a new challenge," said ZSC CEO Peter Zahner. "I think it's okay for both sides."

Crawford’s contract was up in the summer, but with the Stanley Cup-winner coach eyeing an NHL return, ZSC did not want to wait on his decision, instead choosing to part ways with enough time to find a replacement. 

“I want to give myself the best opportunity to get back in the NHL next year,” Crawford told The Hockey News in February. “If that is being a head coach, which I hope it is, or if it’s being an assistant coach or if it’s going back to one of the other leagues, I want to give myself every opportunity.” 

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Sean Leahy is the associate editor for Puck Daddy on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at puckdaddyblog@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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