Five years before Bobby Orr was born, the small town of Parry Sound, Ontario was the birthplace of Terry Crisp. Playing junior hockey, Crisp was a natural playmaker with a strong work ethic and close attention to defense, which made him a great all-round player.
Upon turning pro in the Boston Bruins' organization in 1963, Crisp was assigned to Minneapolis of the CPHL. In 42 games, he scored 35 points, which was a pleasant surprise for a club which had given Crisp primarily defensive duties. The following year Crisp had 62 points in 70 games. He got his first taste of NHL action in the 1965-66 season, when he suited up for three games.
In 1967-68, the NHL expanded from six to 12 teams. The Bruins left Crisp unprotected and he was claimed by the St. Louis Blues. He played in 73 games with the Blues that season, scoring 29 points and was a driving force in helping the club advance to the Stanley Cup finals, where they lost to the Montreal Canadiens. In fact, the Blues and Crisp played in three-straight Stanley Cup finals, an extraordinary feat for an expansion team. The most famous game was on May 10, 1970 when Bobby Orr's overtime goal gave the Boston Bruins their first Cup in 29 years. The Blues, meanwhile, have never been back to the finals.
Crisp remained with the Blues until 1972 when the New York Islanders selected him in the Expansion Draft. He played just 54 games with the fledgling team before being traded to the Philadelphia Flyers for Jean Potvin, where the majority of his playing fame was achieved as a member of the famed "Broad Street Bullies." In the 1974 Stanley Cup finals against Boston, it was Crisp's job to shut down the likes of Ken Hodge and Phil Esposito, which he carried out with amazing success. Of course, the stellar goaltending of Bernie Parent was the main reason for the upset victory, but it was a team effort nonetheless. On a team known for its rough, and ,at times, dirty play, Crisp was one of the few players with penalty minutes totalling lower than his weight. Crisp spent just 31 minutes in the box in 1974, and that was the most of his eleven-year career, equalled on one other occasion in St. Louis.
Following their stunning Cup upset win over the Bruins, the Flyers were poised to defend their title. In the 1975 finals, Crisp and the other defensive specialists on the Flyers were assigned to shut down the "French Connection" consisting of Gil Perreault, Rick Martin, and Rene Robert. What little got by Crisp and his fellow mates was turned back by goalie Bernie Parent, who won his second Conn Smythe trophy as the MVP of the playoffs. The Flyers had now firmly entrenched themselves as a dynasty. They returned for a third consecutive appearance in the Stanley Cup finals in 1976, but were turned aside by a powerful Montreal Canadiens team, which won the first of their four championships in a row.
Crisp retired two games into the 1976-77 season at the age of 33 and turned his sights to coaching. In the 1980s, he coached in the junior ranks and led the 1985 Sault Ste Marie Greyhounds to an undefeated season at home, going 33-0. With the like of scoring stars Wayne Groulx and Graeme Bonar, and the toughness supplied by Bob Probert and Jeff Beukeboom, the club finished first in the Ontario Hockey League with 54 wins, eleven losses, and one tie. Crisp once called Groulx, who wore number nine, the second best player ever to play for the Sault, behind only Wayne Gretzky, number 99. The club set a Canadian junior record by winning 33 games in a row at home. The Sault also took the OHL playoff championship, losing just two games in total, ironically, both at home. The Greyhounds represented the OHL at the Memorial Cup, where they came up short, losing to eventual champion Prince Albert of the WHL.
Thanks to his tremendous coaching success in junior, Crisp was named head coach of the Calgary Flames in 1987-88, following two years as the head coach of the team's AHL affiliate in Moncton. Despite a strong record and a Stanley Cup championship in 1989 over the Montreal Canadiens, Crisp and some of the team's players always seemed to be at odds with one another, and he was let go. Crisp then coached the Tampa Bay Lightning from their inception in 1992 until 1997.
Crisp has also served as a commentator for TSN in Canada, Fox Sports and as a color analyst for the Nashville Predators.