There remains a shroud of mystery around Corey Crawford’s health status.
“I’m feeling pretty good right now,” Crawford said. “I’m not 100 per cent yet but we’ve come a long way in the last couple months and I worked really hard to do whatever I can to get better. … We still have a lot of time before training camp so we’re very excited about it.”
Crawford had a great start to the 2017-18 campaign, going 16-9-2 with a .929 save percentage, 2.27 goals-against average and two shutouts in 27 starts. His final game of the season, however, was on Dec. 23.
He was eventually put on injured reserve and shut down for the season, but neither the player nor team has detailed the specific injury or ailment Crawford is recovering from—or when it occurred.
“We can’t disclose that. I’d ask you just to respect that,” Crawford said. “There’s been a lot of rumours but people tend to do that. Speculation, that’s normal, but we’re not going to discuss any of that. What’s important right now is getting better and getting prepared for the start of the season.”
Back in January it was reported the 33-year-old was dealing with vertigo-like symptoms, while Blackhawks senior advisor Scotty Bowman suggested Crawford was suffering from post-concussion syndrome.
When asked what he needs to do to get back to 100 per cent, Crawford said: “I think right now it’s just time. Injuries, they come with time and for me it was just that. Right now we’re looking good. Like I said, we’ve done a lot to get where I’m at right now and I’m feeling good and hopefully I can get to a point soon where I can get back on the ice.”
Crawford did briefly return to the ice in February, but in hindsight it might not have been the best idea.
“We tried to see where I was at and it didn’t work out,” he explained. “I would’ve liked to come back at that time or even before that but it really wasn’t in the cards to do that. It wasn’t smart to do that and maybe created something worse.”
Although he was vague concerning his physical well-being, the two-time Stanley Cup champion didn’t shy away from discussing how difficult being away from hockey has been for him mentally.
“It could feel kind of lonely at times being out that long,” Crawford said. “I got to go to the games obviously but it’s still not the same. Not the same as stepping on the ice, hearing the crowd, just being there in the locker room, enjoying the times on the ice with [teammates], and after games, all that stuff, it’s hard to be away from especially when you do something your whole life.
“When you’re used to doing something and you don’t do it for a long period of time it’s tough but it is what it is. Injuries happen and you just try to get back as quickly as you can.”
The Blackhawks signed Cam Ward in free agency to a one-year, $3-million contract in order to support Crawford in the crease but the former Carolina Hurricanes netminder could end up being the starter if Crawford isn’t ready for puck-drop
Crawford added that some parts of this ordeal have been “a little bit” scary when pondering his long-term health.
Crawford wouldn’t detail any of the drills or exercises he’s doing in order to return to full health.
“I’m not going to get into what I’m doing right now,” he said. “Treatments are going well and we’re making small steps. I’m getting a little better, so it’s a process. It’s been a process since I left in December.
“It hasn’t been easy but I’ll be back.”