Crawford's return to game action takes initial step with full practice

                                                                                                                                                                                                   
  • Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford practiced Monday and then did extra work in his first complete practice since suffering a concussion nearly two months ago. His return to game action has not been determined.

      Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford practiced Monday and then did extra work in his first complete practice since suffering a concussion nearly two months ago. His return to game action has not been determined. John Starks | Staff Photographer

  • Corey Crawford said things are looking up after he participated in a full practice Monday since suffering a concussion Dec. 16. "Back to normal," he said.

    Corey Crawford said things are looking up after he participated in a full practice Monday since suffering a concussion Dec. 16. "Back to normal," he said. Associated Press

 
 

Corey Crawford's back.

Well, sort of.

The Blackhawks' goaltender went through his first full practice Monday at MB Ice Arena since suffering a concussion during a 7-3 loss to the San Jose Sharks Dec. 16.

As opposed to Saturday, when Crawford practiced for about 20 minutes, he went through all the drills and even did some extra work as coach Jeremy Colliton was addressing reporters in the media room.

"I feel great. Back to normal," Crawford said. "It's nice to get on the ice and practice with everyone."

Colliton, who has been extremely tight-lipped when asked for Crawford updates, said there were no restrictions or instructions to shooters in terms of where they could fire pucks.

"Don't run him over," Colliton said, who got a big laugh for that one-liner.

The Hawks are riding a seven-game winning streak, thanks in large part to Cam Ward and Collin Delia. Not that they wouldn't be patient anyway, but it does mean Crawford can take his time before returning to game action.

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"Honestly we haven't really discussed that at this point," Crawford said. "We're just trying to figure out days when I could practice with the team and kind of get timing back."

Crawford suffered his concussion during the second period against the Sharks when Evander Kane forced Dylan Strome into Crawford. Strome collided with Crawford's head and Crawford fell backward and hit his head on the crossbar.

Crawford lay on the ice for about 10 seconds, was escorted to the locker room and replaced by Ward.

Crawford said he "had a few similar symptoms" to the concussion that kept him out of last season's final 47 games, "but it was obviously a little bit quicker" in being able to return.

"It was nice to not wait that long," Crawford continued. "It's just try to stay patient, try and be confident that it won't last long."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Considering this was Crawford's second serious concussion in about a year, it was only natural to ask him if he considered retiring.

"No, not at all," he said. "I was gonna come back as soon as I felt 100 percent. I'm not worried about that. It is what it is.

"Some guys have to deal with other injuries. It's just what I had to deal with. I feel good, I feel ready. Just going to work (my) way back into the lineup."

Crawford's contract, which carries a $6 million cap hit, expires after next season. He has appeared in just 50 games since the beginning of the 2017-18 season and is 6-14-2 this season with a .902 save percentage and 3.28 goals-against average.

After he returned to practice in October, it took Crawford 17 days before he appeared in a game. If he's on a somewhat similar timetable, Crawford could return Feb. 22 against Colorado, Feb. 24 against Dallas or during a three-game West Coast road trip that begins Feb. 27 in Anaheim.

At that point -- unless Ward waives his no-movement clause and the Hawks find a team that wants to acquire a Stanley Cup-winning goalie -- Delia figures to be sent back to Rockford.

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