No matter what anyone on the outside thought, Corey Crawford didn’t consider retiring after he suffered a concussion two months ago. He has been set on a return to the Blackhawks, and that could come soon.
Crawford, who went through a full practice Monday morning for the first time since going on injured reserve, wants to be back in uniform as soon as possible. He has been unwavering in that pursuit and didn’t view this situation as a crossroads in his career.
“Not at all,” he said. “I was gonna come back as soon as I felt 100 percent. I’m not worried about that. It is what it is. Some guys have to deal with other injuries. It’s just what I had to deal with. But I feel good, I feel ready and we’re just gonna work our way back to getting in the lineup.”
He suffered a season-ending concussion in December 2017, costing him the remaining 47 games. This one, a result of a collision at the net that caused him to hit the back of his head on a goal post, didn’t seem as bad to him.
Crawford also said he is comfortable with the risk of continuing to play after two confirmed concussions.
“You just have to do the right things,” he said. “That’s what the training staff and doctors are doing. You’ve just gotta be smart and not try to push it too fast. I’m just happy to be back.”
Crawford has been mostly out of sight the last two months and had not spoken publicly about his condition until Monday. He has been working out consistently with the staff and came back for part of practice Saturday.
The Hawks put no restrictions on him Monday, other than coach Jeremy Colliton telling players, “Don’t run him over,” indicating that Crawford has recovered from the concussion and will be back as soon as he’s game-ready.
He feels like he already is, saying he was “back to normal” but will be patient. He didn’t fly with the Hawks to Boston for their game Tuesday against the Bruins. The team has gone with Cam Ward and Collin Delia in his absence, and both have played well during the seven-game winning streak.
Crawford declined to give a target date for his first game back.
“It’s pretty tough to jump in right now,” he said. “Deals and Wardo have been playing so well, [and] we’re on a pretty good streak right now.
“Obviously, I would jump in the net right away, but honestly we haven’t really discussed that at this point. We’re just trying to figure out days when I could practice with the team and kind of get timing back.”
Monday was big for Delia, too. The Hawks locked him up with a three-year, $3 million contract extension.
That sets the Hawks up with Crawford ideally returning for the last season of his deal, Ward finishing his contract this season and Delia getting the opportunity to be their goalie of the future.
Delia, 24, has been in the system since the summer of 2017, but this is his first extended run in the NHL. He has a .923 save percentage and 2.98 goals-against average in 12 games.
“It’s a huge vote of confidence,” Delia said. “Couldn’t be happier to do it now. At this time of the year, it feels really good.”