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Goalie Cam Ward’s role with Hawks still unclear

With Corey Crawford’s health still a concern, it was clear the Blackhawks needed to add depth in their net — their main reason for signing longtime Hurricanes goaltender Cam Ward to a one-year, $3 million deal.

Several weeks out from training camp, Ward’s role on the team is up in the air because of the question marks surrounding Crawford.

“It’s too early to tell,” goalies coach Jimmy Waite said Friday at the Blackhawks Convention. “We feel comfortable that Corey will be there at the beginning of the season. If not, then we have two great goalies [Anton Forsberg and Ward] ready to go. But we plan on [Crawford] being there for sure.”

General manager Stan Bowman is confident that Ward, a 2006 Stanley Cup champion, will be able to step up in Crawford’s absence if needed.

Cam Ward said he saw the Blackhawks as a "great opportunity" for a clean slate. | Derik Hamilton/Associated Press

“Cam has a lot of experience,” Bowman said. “I think he’s been through some really [high-pressure] situations with the Stanley Cup, playoff hockey. So there’s a comfort level knowing if he’s required to carry the weight, he’s done it before.”

Chicago will be a change of pace for Ward and his family, who have called North Carolina their home for the last 13 years. His wife and two children — ages 5 and 7 — played a key role in his decision to sign with the Hawks.

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“I made it clear that I wanted to go to place where my family would come with me,” said Ward, who had a .906 save percentage and 2.73 goals-against average last season while sharing responsibilities with former Hawks goalie Scott Darling. “I wanted to go somewhere where my wife and two kids would be comfortable.”

Ward himself feels more comfortable joining the Hawks because he played with several players on the current roster — including Jonathan Toews, Brent Seabrook and Duncan Keith — with Team Canada in several World Championships. At 34, he’s looking forward to his fresh start with the Hawks.

“We’re looking at it as a family adventure, and I’m looking at it as a great opportunity in my career to do something great,” he said. “I’m excited to see something different.”

Better the second time around

Forsberg had to step up last season from being Crawford’s backup to being the No.  1 guy. And it wasn’t all that glorious. He repeatedly struggled and had a .908 save percentage with a 2.97 goals-against average.

But Waite believes Forsberg is due for a stronger second season with the Hawks.

“I think he did really well under the circumstances of last year,” Waite said. “It wasn’t an easy situation for him to come in. I think he did a decent job. . . . I think he got pushed into a situation that was hard but definitely gained a lot of experience. It’s a lot of baggage, a lot for him to gain, and I’m confident he’ll be a lot better going forward.”