Joel Quenneville no longer ‘hopeful’ about Corey Crawford’s return this season

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Corey Crawford hasn’t played since Dec. 23. (AP Photo)

For the first time since Corey Crawford was sidelined with a head injury in December, Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville wasn’t “hopeful” that the two-time Stanley Cup-winning goalie will play again this season.

Quenneville, in typical Coach Q-dialect, brushed off a question about Crawford’s return with his go-to “we’ll see on that one” response. But unlike other “we’ll see” responses, Quenneville seemed hesitant.

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“Before, we were [optimistic about Crawford’s return this season],” Quenneville said Wednesday. “Where we’re at, his health’s going to dictate all that.”

When asked if it is because of where the Hawks are in the standings, Quenneville said: “That might be part of it. But once he gets healthy, that’ll be the next decision.”

Crawford was placed on injured reserve on Dec. 27 after experiencing a head injury. The Sun-Times previously reported that Crawford was experiencing “vertigo-like symptoms” for the second time in his career.

Crawford has participated in off-ice workouts, including one on Monday, but he hasn’t been on the ice since he participated in the Hawks morning skate in Arizona last week when he took some shots from Patrick Sharp and Ryan Hartman before the skate officially began. He also put in some work with goaltending coach Jimmy Waite.

Crawford made it clear last week he’d like to still play this season, but the 33-year-old’s health is a priority.

“As far as I’m concerned, right now, for me, we’re just looking at it day-to-day to try to get better to put myself in a position to play,” Crawford said. “That’s all.”

There’s no reason to rush Crawford back. The Hawks, who are in the bottom of the Central Division, have less than a one-percent chance of making the playoffs.

In Crawford’s absence, the Hawks have gone 9-14-3 and have lost nine of their last 11 games.

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