Chicago Blackhawks two-time Stanley Cup champion goaltender Corey Crawford announced his retirement from the NHL on Saturday, marking the end of his tremendous 13-year career. Crawford, a second-round pick (No. 52 overall) of the Blackhawks way back in 2003, ranks first all-time in franchise history in playoff wins (52), tied for second in playoffs shutouts (five), and third in regular-season wins (260).
Corey Crawford has officially announced his retirement from the NHL following 10 NHL seasons and 488 regular-season games.
— NHLPA (@NHLPA) January 9, 2021
After the Blackhawks decided to part ways with Crawford in the offseason, the two-time William Jennings Trophy winner signed a two-year, $7.8 million contract with the New Jersey Devils. But when the Devils opened training camp earlier this week, Crawford did not join his new team for practice through the first five days. Then, on Friday, the Devils announced that Crawford was taking an indefinite leave of absence from the club due to personal reasons. Less than 24 hours later, Crawford decided to call it a career.
“I have been fortunate to have had a long career playing professional hockey for a living,” Crawford said. “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.”
Crawford then took the time to address the Blackhawks and their fans in his statement:
“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.”
Retiring No. 50
While the Blackhawks are assuredly going to put Nos. 2, 19, and 88 up in the rafters once Duncan Keith, Jonathan Toews, and Patrick Kane all hang up the skates, Crawford (along with Brent Seabrook) has always seemed like the odd-man-out in the conversation. But without Crawford in goal, the Blackhawks likely do not win the Stanley Cup in 2013 OR 2015. Let’s go back.
In 23 games during the 2013 postseason, Crawford recorded a 16-7 record, along with an incredible .930 save percentage and 1.84 goals-against average. His 16 victories, 23 starts, and 1,504 minutes played led all goaltenders. But in the Stanley Cup Final against the Boston Bruins, the enormous narrative built up against Crawford was his weak glove side, which likely led to the Conn Smyth being awarded to Kane. Kane was deserving of the award, but Crawford was the glue that kept the Blackhawks together in the face of adversity.
Then, after being benched in the first round of the 2015 postseason against the Nashville Predators in favor of backup Scott Darling, Crawford regained control of the starting job and went on to lead the Blackhawks to their third Stanley Cup in six seasons. Crawford finished with a postseason-best 13 victories and most notably pitched a shutout in the Cup-clinching Game 6 against the Tampa Bay Lightning. In the final three games of the series (all Blackhawks victories), Crawford allowed just two goals and stopped 80 of 82 shots faced. Without his sturdy play in net, the Blackhawks likely do not overcome the 2-1 series deficit in the Final against Tampa Bay.
Retiring No. 50 should be a simple decision for the Blackhawks.
Best Goalie in Franchise History?
Crawford spent his entire 13-year career with the Blackhawks, finishing with a 260-162-53 record, 2.45 goals-against average, .918 save percentage, and 26 shutouts. Among goaltenders with at least 300 games played in franchise history, Crawford’s save percentage and goals-against average rank first. His 260 regular-season wins rank third.
In 96 postseason contests, Crawford went 52-42 with a 2.38 goals-against average, .918 save percentage, and five shutouts. His 52 victories are the most by any goaltender in Blackhawks’ franchise history.
But where do these numbers leave Crawford in terms of rank in Blackhawks history?
Glenn Hall, aka “Mr. Goalie”, ranks ahead of Crawford in both wins and shutouts, and he also started a ludicrous 502 consecutive games, which is an NHL record that will never be broken. Hall led the Blackhawks to the Stanley Cup in 1961 and won two Vezina Trophies during his tenure with the club.
Tony Esposito and Ed Belfour also have to be in the conversation for the Blackhawks’ best goalie of all time. Esposito has the most regular-season wins in franchise history, and Belfour won two Vezinas along with the Calder Trophy. However, Crawford’s two Stanley Cup rings might be enough to top them both.
With all these goaltenders playing in different eras, it’s nearly impossible to compare their respective careers. But “Crow” is undoubtedly up there with Mr. Goalie, Tony O, and Eddie The Eagle for the best in Blackhawks history.
Thanks again for everything, Corey. Blackhawks fans across the world will never forget what you did for this franchise.