Ex-Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford announces retirement, won’t play for Devils after all

Crawford ends his 15-year career having never played for a team other than the Blackhawks.

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Corey Crawford announced his retirement Saturday.

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Corey Crawford will never play for a team other than the Blackhawks after all.

The legendary goaltender announced his retirement from the NHL on Saturday, three months after signing with the Devils and one day after the Devils disclosed Crawford had taken a personal leave.

Crawford, 36, finishes his career with 488 regular-season and 96 postseason appearances and two Stanley Cup titles.

His .918 career save percentage ranks 14th in NHL history, and in 2013 and 2015, he won the William Jennings Trophy, which goes to the goalie for the team with the fewest goals against.

“I have been fortunate to have had a long career playing professional hockey for a living,” Crawford said in a statement. “I wanted to continue my career but believe I’ve given all I can to the game of hockey, and I have decided that it is time to retire.

“I would like to thank the New Jersey Devils organization for understanding and supporting my decision. I would like to thank the Chicago Blackhawks organization for giving me the chance to live my childhood dream. I am proud to have been part of winning two Stanley Cups in Chicago. Thank you to all of my teammates and coaches throughout the years. Also, thank you to the fans who make this great game what it is. I am happy and excited to move on to the next chapter of my life with my family.”

The Hawks’ decision not to re-sign Crawford in October hit him hard emotionally, but he nonetheless signed a two-year deal with the Devils, planning to continue his career.

But after reporting to training camp in New Jersey late last week, Crawford missed five consecutive practices before his leave was announced.

The Hawks’ organization and Wirtz family issued a statement congratulating Crawford on a “Hall of Fame-worthy playing career — one we celebrate with him today as a member of the Blackhawks family forevermore.”

Longtime teammates Patrick Kane and Duncan Keith also reflected Saturday on Crawford’s tenure with the Hawks.

“If he got hit in the wrong place in practice or hit in the head or shots up high, he seemed to always be pissed off for a little bit, and then you could see him smiling through his mask,” Kane said. “[It was the] same thing off the ice. He always seemed to be in a good mood, always seemed to be a guy you could joke around with and make fun of, and [he’d give it] back to you. We all loved him as a guy, we all appreciated him and his sense of humor.”

Kane said he planned to talk to Crawford more in the coming days but didn’t want to speak for him as far as his reasoning to retire.

“Sometimes there are bigger things than hockey,” Kane said. “I wish him all the best in the future.”

Crawford was a rock for the Hawks as recently as the 2020 playoffs, which included two of his all-time best postseason performances in Game 4 against the Oilers (43 saves) and Game 4 against the Golden Knights (48 saves).

He battled through numerous concussions to make it this far in his career. Several times, it looked like his symptoms might force a premature retirement.

Ultimately, Crawford went out healthy and on his own terms.

“You play with a guy long enough, you get to know his friends and family,” Keith said. “One thing my friends and family have always said about Corey is that they always thought he was the nicest guy that they would talk to, whether we were just at a restaurant or somewhere outside of the rink. [He would] spend time talking to them; a very down-to-earth guy. That says a lot about ‘Crow’ as a person.”

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