DENVER (AP) _ The Colorado Avalanche, stunned by Marc Crawford's resignation last week, have hired Bob Hartley as their new coach, two Denver television stations reported today.

Hartley is the coach of the Hershey Bears, Colorado's top farm club in the American Hockey League, and is a longtime friend of Avalanche general manager Pierre Lacroix.

Avalanche spokesman Jean Martineau did not confirm the reports but said the team had scheduled an afternoon news conference regarding their ``coaching situation.''

KUSA-TV, citing unidentified in the Hershey organization, and KMGH-TV, citing unidentified sources in the Avalanche organization, said Hartley had the job.

The Avalanche began looking for a coach last Wednesday after Crawford rejected a contract extension that would have kept him in Colorado through the 2000-2001 season.

Hartley immediately was dubbed the front-runner to succeed Crawford. He led Hershey to the AHL title in 1997.

Before taking over in Hershey, Hartley coached Colorado's former AHL affiliate in Cornwall for three seasons. He also has coached in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.

Other candidates thought to be in the running for the Colorado job were former Buffalo Sabres coach Ted Nolan, former New Jersey Devils coach Jacques Lemaire and Detroit Red Wings assistants Dave Lewis and Barry Smith.