Crawford wants to return to Chicago Blackhawks next season
If it were up to Corey Crawford, he would definitely be back with the Blackhawks next season -- and possibly beyond.
"I would like to be back," Crawford said Tuesday during a Zoom call with reporters. "I think we still have a lot of great pieces on this team, and to win another Cup in Chicago would be unbelievable."
That means we can throw any talk of retirement out the window for the time being. Crawford, who will be an unrestricted free agent when this season ends, has not spoken with general manager Stan Bowman yet, although he expects to do so soon.
One thing Crawford made abundantly clear is he does not want to return as the backup, or in the 50-50 role he experienced this season with Robin Lehner.
"I don't want to play half the games and sit on the bench for stretches at a time," Crawford said. "My value is just not as good doing that. I'm way more valuable playing games and playing consistently."
The numbers certainly back him up.
Crawford was 10-15-3 with a .911 save percentage and 2.89 goals-against average in his first 29 games. He then went 6-5-0 with a .929 save percentage and 2.47 GAA in his last 11 games, allowing more than 3 goals just once.
Now, don't get him wrong. Crawford, who played just 67 games the previous two seasons due to injuries, completely understands why the Hawks brought Lehner aboard.
It's just that this was the first season where his rhythm was thrown off due to another goaltender.
"I loved playing with Lenny. He was fun to play with," Crawford said. "But for both of us, we both just wanted to play more.
"(It's just) little things throughout the game are easier to come by when you're playing a ton. I just play better and I think Lenny feels the same. It's hard to sit and then be at your best when you're called upon every now and then.
"For me if we're going to sign again, it's the amount of time that I'm going to be on the ice and how much I can contribute. So that's a factor."
So now what?
Well, Crawford will have his exit meeting with Bowman and Jeremy Colliton later this week. That's when he should get a true sense of what direction the Hawks want to take.
Even if they do express interest in bringing him back, however, there may not be much talk about salary or contract length. Crawford is well aware the Hawks are looking to extend forward Dominik Kubalik and quite possibly Dylan Strome, Drake Caggiula and defenseman Slater Koekkoek as well.
"Salary, that can be discussed," Crawford said. "That's something that is not as important at this time. We'll see how those discussions go.
"But I mean staying in Chicago and trying to win again, that's No. 1."
When asked how many more seasons he may want to play, Crawford began by saying a short-term deal might be preferable for both sides.
In the next breath, however, he slid to the other post and said with a smile: "Who knows? ... I change my mind pretty quick so I could turn around and say, 'Let's sign something longer. Three or 4 years.'
"And maybe they decide, 'Yeah, let's do that.'
"Until we talk and really discuss all the options, it's really hard to say right now."
Although the last three seasons have been extremely trying, Crawford decided to push retirement thoughts to the side for now.
"I can't say it hasn't crept in my mind," he said. "But going through those injuries and coming back and working hard to get in shape ... you have a different mindset where, 'OK. I'm good now. I can play and keep playing.'
"That's sort of where my mindset's at right now. I'm ready to play. It really depends on the situation of the team."