While Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman didn't come out and say Thursday that veteran Marty Turco won't be back next season even in a backup role to Corey Crawford, the GM left the writing on the wall.
"He was a great Blackhawk for us this year," Bowman said. "He came in early on when we needed him and played some big games for us. As the year went on and he wasn't playing as much he was still a great Blackhawk. He proved to be a great mentor for Corey.
"We appreciate everything he did this year in a difficult circumstance for him, and he handled it like a pro."
Bowman said Turco indicated to him in his season-ending meeting that he wanted to play in 2011-12.
"We have a meeting with every player at the end of the season and I think Marty is still interested in playing hockey," Bowman said. "We didn't talk in relation to what his plans were, but I know that he feels he's still going to try to play."
The Hawks have several options with it comes to a backup for Crawford next season. Alexander Salak, acquired with Michael Frolik from Florida in February at the trade deadline, is a possible candidate, as is Alec Richards, who spent last season at Rockford.
"Alex is a guy who is going to be in North America next year," Bowman said. "We're still working things out, but he has a very bright future."
Bowman can also pursue a backup goalie in free agency. Among the veterans who will be unrestricted free agents on July 1 are Ray Emery, Peter Budaj, Mathieu Garon, Josh Harding, Jose Theodore, Alex Auld, Johan Hedberg, Pascal Leclaire, Brian Boucher, Jason LaBarbera, Ty Conklin and Mike Smith.