As Corey Crawford approached a waiting media throng just outside the Blackhawks’ dressing room at the United Center, the most noticeable part of his attire was on his left leg. Instead of the usual bare feet, flip-flops or other casual post-practice footwear, Crawford’s left foot and lower left leg were covered by a gray walking boot.
After being ushered past a couple members of the press, Crawford explained why he’d miss two-three weeks with what was termed Tuesday an off-ice lower-body injury.
“I was at a concert the other day and was on the way out and I missed a step and I didn’t think it was that bad,” Crawford said after the Hawks’ morning skate Wednesday before their game against the St. Louis Blues. “I got up the next day and it was worse than I thought. I’m pretty embarrassed about it, frustrated.
“Things were going really well, so right now I’m just thinking about trying to get back as quickly as possible and make sure I’m right back where I was when I left off.”
Beyond that, Crawford didn’t volunteer many details about the injury. He didn’t answer when it occurred, whether anything was broken, if alcohol was involved or if he felt he needed to meet with his teammates to explain what happened.
Coach Joel Quenneville didn’t volunteer too much, either. Speaking a few minutes before Crawford revealed what happened at the concert, Quenneville gave the “probably a couple, three weeks” prognosis.
Quenneville was then asked whether the injury required surgery but referred questions to Crawford.
“He’s going to talk to you guys right after I’m done here,” Quenneville said. “Corey will talk about it.”
Crawford did, and he talked about how his focus was on getting back as quickly as possible from his absence, something that will look more glaring thanks to the Hawks’ tough upcoming schedule. After Wednesday, they host the Montreal Canadiens on Friday before going back on the road for four games, games Crawford will likely miss because of the concert.
“It’s a tough bounce for me and, like I said, I feel pretty bad about it,” Crawford said. “I just want to be out there playing hockey, especially … we’ve got some tough games coming up against some division rivals, some games I want to be on the ice for and it’s pretty tough to swallow right now. Just going to work hard to get better.”
Between this and the upper-body injury that kept him out in late October, Crawford has become one of the NHL’s top workhorses. He had started 14 straight and was on pace for maybe his best season in the league, entering Wednesday with a 12-5-1 record and 1.87 goals-against average.
Those numbers will stay the same for a while, with Antti Raanta and Scott Darling replacing Crawford in the Hawks’ net. Though neither had played in an NHL game for a while before Wednesday, they and coach Joel Quenneville sounded confident they could keep the Hawks going without Crawford.
Save for Crawford’s mishap, the Blackhawks should be feeling confident. They were coming off a 5-1 circus trip that re-established them as one of the best teams in the Western Conference, while winger Patrick Sharp is coming close to returning to the lineup.
But if that added any frustration for Quenneville about Crawford’s injury, he didn’t say it.
“That’s the nature of the season and the business. I know that there’s always good and bad times. There are always some things you can’t predict, but that’s all part of it,” Quenneville said. “I think having the depth organizationally and guys pushing one another for more ice time I think is a healthy situation to be in and then when you go through periods like that, hopefully you don’t miss a beat.”