Bad news for the New Jersey Devils - and the 2021 season hasn’t even started yet… The team announced on Friday that goaltender Corey Crawford is taking an indefinite leave of absence for personal reasons.
The 36-year-old goalie was set to dress for his first season in New Jersey as he signed a two-year, $7.8 million contract with the Devils on Oct. 9, after13 seasons with the Chicago Blackhawks.
It isn’t the first time Crawford needs to step away from the ice. His health hasn’t always been the best. At the start of camp this summer in Chicago, Crawford was deemed unfit to play, but he eventually return after he revealed that he had been diagnosed with COVID-19, forcing him to be sidelined for almost the entire duration of training camp. He missed parts of the previous two seasons because of concussions which has forced the Hawks to make a significant change in between the pipes to set a real direction for the future.
Crawford will go down in history as one of the greatest goaltenders in Hawks’ history. He ranks third all-time in games played and wins by a Blackhawks goaltender behind Hall of Famers Glenn Hall and Tony Esposito. He’s been in the Blackhawks organization since being drafted by the team in the 2nd round (52nd overall) in the 2003 NHL Entry Draft. He’s been more or less the team’s uncontested starting goaltender since 2010-11 and it’s only due to injuries that he’s been limited in recent years. He posted a record of a .917 save percentage and 2.77 GAA in 40 games last season with the Blackhawks. He had a .907 save percentage and 3.31 GAA in the playoffs as Chicago was eliminated in the first round by the Vegas Golden Knights in five games. Crawford was selected in the second round, 52nd overall, by Chicago at the 2003 NHL Draft. He’s a two time Stanley Cup champion (2013 and 2015) and he’s also a two time Jennings Trophy winner (2013 and 2015). To be perfectly honest, he’s one of the most underrated players in Blackhawks history.
We have no clue what or if he will return this season.
The Devils might be forced to look elsewhere for goaltending help. The Florida Panthers released netminder Scott Darling from his professional tryout contract on Friday. "Perhaps a backup option for the Devils to explore, given today's news on Crawford," notes David Pagnotta of The Fourth Period.
Source: TSN · Photo Credit: Zuma Press