Rozner: Status of Blackhawks' Crawford still uncertain, and that's not good

Updated 7/28/2018 3:42 PM
  • Chicago Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford is still uncertain if he will be ready at the start of training camp.

    Chicago Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford is still uncertain if he will be ready at the start of training camp. Associated Press File Photo/Nov. 2017

Corey Crawford emerged and saw his shadow Friday afternoon.

It is not yet clear from whence he came, nor is there vivid memory of Crawford skating with the Blackhawks around Groundhog Day when it appeared he might be nearing a return, but he cast a giant shadow when the TV lights surrounded him Friday.

It was media day at the Blackhawks Convention at the Hilton on Michigan Avenue, and Crawford attracted a crowd as if he were doing his Christmas shopping while walking down Michigan Avenue.

That's about the last time -- late December -- that most saw Crawford participating in hockey.

And as of Friday afternoon he was unsure when he might participate again.

That was disconcerting, to say the least.

While GM Stan Bowman said it was his assumption that Crawford would be 100 percent ready to go for training camp, Crawford was not as certain.

Nearly eight months of recovery from an apparent concussion and Crawford is still guessing.

Hopeful, yes. Certain, no.

"I'm feeling pretty good right now," Crawford said while under interrogation. "I'm not at 100 percent 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 will Crawford be 100 percent for the start of camp?

"That's hard to say right now," Crawford said. "It's very possible. We've come a long way in the last few months. There's a really good chance that could happen."

So what's left to clear that final hurdle?

"Just time," Crawford said. "Right now we're looking good. Hopefully get to a point soon where I can jump back on the ice."

Crawford would not discuss the nature of his injury or how he's been rehabbing or really anything about it, though he did not seem pleased with speculation surrounding his disappearance.

"We can't disclose that and I just ask you to respect that," Crawford said. "There's been a lot of rumors. People tend to do that with speculation. That's normal, but we're not gonna discuss any of that.

"What's important is getting ready for the start of the season."

It's absolutely crucial to what the Hawks are attempting to do because Crawford was their best player during the last two Stanley Cup runs, and single-handedly had the Hawks in the playoff race when he suddenly entered witness protection late last year.

From 2 points out of a playoff spot with half a season remaining, without Crawford and with some terrible goaltending the Hawks also disappeared.

"We don't know what's going on. We hope he's OK and he comes back," said Duncan Keith, one of Crawford's closest friends on the club. "I've never been updated, so I don't know if he's not 100 percent or he's ready to go or what. I don't know what's going on with him.

"It's good to hear that he's getting better. That's positive. Probably just take as much as you can from that and hope that he keeps getting better.

"There's still a month, month and a half until training camp. If he's not ready for training camp, hopefully he's ready for Game 1. If he's not ready for Game 1, hopefully he's ready by Christmas or something."

Christmas or something will not be good enough, not for a team that could go either direction once the season begins, and not for Crawford who has dearly missed being part of the action.

"When you do something your whole life, it's hard to be away from it," Crawford said. "Stepping on the ice, hearing the crowd, being in the locker room, enjoying good times on the ice with the guys and after games … it's hard to be away from all of that."

As for whether he wonders if he can still be one of the NHL's best goaltenders, on that Crawford was not vague, saying, "I don't doubt that at all."

Bowman pointed out the one odd positive that's come from this is the NHL seems more aware than ever that Crawford is elite, that there is more appreciation for him after a long absence.

The general manager also said that this was not something the Hawks needed to learn, that they were keenly aware of how important he was the last six years.

They also need no reminding that it's entirely necessary for Crawford to be ready when training camp begins.

And that question has not yet been answered.

• Listen to Barry Rozner from 9 a.m. to noon Sundays on the Score's "Hit and Run" show at WSCR 670-AM and follow him @BarryRozner on Twitter.

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