It’s the end of an era in Chicago, as Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman has announced that the team will not re-sign Corey Crawford. Bowman explained it was an emotional decision and suggested that Crawford should be recognized with the great Chicago goaltenders like Glenn Hall and Tony Esposito after winning two Stanley Cups with the organization. Crawford will become an unrestricted free agent tomorrow. While Bowman confirmed Malcolm Subban was not given a qualifying offer (along with Slater Koekkoek, Drake Caggiula and others), the team is hoping to re-sign him to a different contract.
Crawford, 35, will leave the Blackhawks after 497 games in the Chicago crease and one of the most consistent goaltenders of his generation. He has posted a 260-162-53 record over his decade-plus with the team, recording a .918 regular season save percentage in the process. His postseason performances were even better, with two magical runs to the Stanley Cup championship in 2013 and 2015. He was a Vezina candidate on three different occasions, took home the Jennings twice and was named to the All-Rookie team in 2011. There is little that Crawford hasn’t accomplished during his time in Chicago.
If he wants to keep playing (which he does), then he’ll have to try and take that magic somewhere else. After returning from serious concussion issues this season he managed to post a .917 in 40 appearances, creating an excellent tandem with Robin Lehner. Lehner was moved at the deadline and then re-signed by the Vegas Golden Knights, meaning if it’s not Crawford, the Blackhawks will have to look elsewhere for their 2020-21 starter. Collin Delia is still in the organization and under contract, but neither he or Subban are legitimate starting options if the team has plans on returning to the playoffs.
It’s the long list of free agent options that may have cost Crawford an opportunity to return, since the Blackhawks can bet on signing someone else when the market opens on Friday. That doesn’t mean his career is over though, as long as he’s willing to take a backup or tandem role somewhere else. Perhaps even Vegas and a reunion with Lehner would be of interest to him if the Golden Knights can find a way to get rid of Marc-Andre Fleury’s contract.
At any rate, Crawford will bid farewell to the only professional franchise he’s ever known. It was a good run.