The Chicago Blackhawks are the closest thing to a dynasty in the NHL’s new salary cap era — five trips to the Western Conference Finals in a span of seven seasons and two Stanley Cups will do that.
The Blackhawks have done that primarily on the strength of its top players including high draft picks Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane. Recently, starting goaltender Corey Crawford has become a big part of the Chicago Blackhawks game.
Despite criticism about being the weak link for the team and where Crawford ranks among the NHL’s best, Crawford is one of the league’s steadiest net-minders and has made the playoffs in each of his five seasons since becoming the Hawks starting goaltender including three straight trips to the Western Conference Finals.
Here else is what you need to know about Corey Crawford:
1. Crawford Has Had to Deal With Criticism Over the Years
The Blackhawks are built so good up top with captain, 2010 Conn Smythe Trophy winner, 2010 and 2014 Olympic gold medalist and two-time Selke Trophy winning center Jonathan Toews, 2013 Conn Smythe Trophy winner Patrick Kane, Marian Hossa, Patrick Sharp, two-time Norris Trophy winning defenseman Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook that goalie is a position most believe can be handled by someone not quite as skilled. In 2010 the Blackhawks won a Stanley Cup with Antti Niemi in net.
Crawford was selected with the 52nd overall pick in the 2003 NHL Entry Draft and became the team’s full-time goalie in 2010-11, and his first season yielded okay results and a seven-game series loss to the Western Conference Champion Vancouver Canucks in the first round. In 2012 the Blackhawks were eliminated again in the first round in six games by the Phoenix Coyotes, mainly due to Crawford’s less than stellar play. In 2013, Crawford quieted doubters with a career playoff run, which included a .932 save percentage and 1.84 goals-against-average.
Despite that Cup victory, Crawford still gets flack to this day.
2. The Blackhawks Signed Crawford Through the 2019-2020 Season
Before the 2014 season started, the Blackhawks negotiated a six-year, $36 million contract extension with Crawford that will pay him $6 million per year until the end of the 2019-2020 season. The contract makes Crawford one of the highest-paid starting goaltenders in the NHL.
He is tied for 6th in the NHL with Ryan Miller who signed a three-year, $18 million contract with the Vancouver Canucks last offseason.
3. Crawford & His Ex-girlfriend Broke Up a Few Months Ago
Crawford was dating girlfriend long-time Sylvie Cormier who he met 11 years ago while he was playing junior hockey and the two were engaged to get married. Towards the end of 2014, Crawford started posting pictures, noticeably without Cormier, which led to speculation that the two were no longer dating.
Although there is no concrete report to validate what the gossip sites have claimed, Cormier was seen together with Crawford during the teams playoff runs in 2013 and 2014 and has not been around this season, which gives a big hint that the two have since called off their engagement.
4. Crawford’s Playoff Statistics Are Better Than His Regular Season Statistics
Crawford is scrutinized for not being completely consistent and occasionally giving up “softer” goals than most normal elite goaltenders do. Despite the bias, Crawford is actually a better postseason goaltender than regular season one.
Crawford’s Regular Season Statistics: Record: 147-79; Save Percentage: .917; GAA: 2.34
Crawford’s Career Playoff Statistics: Record: 40-27; Save Percentage: .920; GAA: 2.27
While there isn’t a LARGE jump in stats, Crawford is noticeably better in the postseason. Three Western Conference Finals trips in five seasons points to Crawford being a good player rather than the team’s largest weak link.
While it’s an apples to oranges comparison, Crawford is often labeled as non-elite in the same way that Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco is for the NFL. Both are good players with winning pedigrees who play better in playoff situations, but will never objectively be a top 5/6 performer at their position.
5. Crawford Has Lost His Job Several Times Through the Years but Always Gets it Back
Blackhawks head coach Joel Quenneville pulled Crawford after giving up three first period goals in Game 1 of this year’s first round series against the Nashville Predators. The Blackhawks rolled with backup Scott Darling until Crawford regained the job heading into Game 5.
This wasn’t the first time Crawford has lost his job. In 2012 the Blackhawks decided to plug in veteran Ray Emery at several points during the season. The result: Crawford won the job back two times during that season.
Crawford has had rough patches, but he always bounces back and comes back stronger than before. Crawford is one of the key players for the Blackhawks and although he may not be their best player, Crawford is a good player and is a strong part of why the Blackhawks have remained successful in the salary cap era despite two post-Stanley Cup roster turnovers.