Paying tribute to one of the best to have ever done it in Corey Crawford

Corey Crawford #50 of the Chicago Blackhawks. (Photo by Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images)
Corey Crawford #50 of the Chicago Blackhawks. (Photo by Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images) /

Corey Crawford rightly belongs in the rich annals of NHL history.

It was a sad day in the hockey world today after Corey Crawford announced his retirement from the National Hockey League, bringing the curtain down on a stellar 10-year career between the pipes.

The news comes just a day after Crawford was granted a leave of absence from the New Jersey Devils for personal reasons, and the two-time Stanley Cup Champion has now decided to call it a day.

This obviously impacts the New Jersey Devils who signed the veteran to a two-year, $7,800,000 contract in Free Agency, and my colleague Matty Breisch mapped out here why it would be a disaster for the Devils if Crawford did retire.

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There is obviously now work to do for the Devils who will need to replace their offseason addition but, today, I want to focus on Corey Crawford’s legacy.

And it is an impressive one.

Drafted by the Chicago Blackhawks with the 52nd overall pick in the 2003 NHL Entry Draft, Crawford was a key cog in the franchise’s Stanley Cup dynasty and he will go down as one of the most important figures in Chicago sports history.

He probably also never got the credit he quite deserved, consistently being mentioned after the likes of Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook and Joel Quenneville in regards to the Hawks’ championship success.

But, and as iconic as those other figures are, Chicago couldn’t have won two of their three Stanley Cups were it not for the heroics of Crawford between the pipes.

For instance, Crawford was the real Conn Smythe winner of the 2012-13 Stanley Cup Playoffs – a fact actual winner Patrick Kane has acknowledged – going 16-7-0 with a stellar 1.84 Goals Against Average and a .932 Save Percentage to go along with one shutout.

He was an absolute rock for Chicago when they needed their franchise goaltender the most.

Crawford’s stats were not quite as impressive in 2014-15 when the Blackhawks won their last championship, but he was still crucial with two shutouts to go along with a 2.31 GAA and a .924 SV%.

Then, as the bill was due in the wake of a golden period in franchise history, Crawford stepped up to the plate night after night after night to bail out his team and keep them competitive at all times.

It was perhaps fitting then that, in what will now be Crawford’s final taste of the postseason, he came up absolute clutch again to guide the Blackhawks past the Edmonton Oilers in the 2019-20 Stanley Cup Playoffs and into the First Round, where they gave it their all against the Vegas Golden Knights.

But he was the reason they made it as far as they did.

Crawford was Mr. Consistent for the Chicago Blackhawks, appearing in 488 career NHL games with a 260-162-53 record with 26 shutouts, a 2.45 Goals Against Average and a .918 Save Percentage.

His postseason resume was also stellar with a 52-42-0 record and a .918 SV% and a 2.38 GAA to go along with those two Stanley Cups.

A two-time All-Star, a two-time William M. Jennings Trophy winner and a two-time Stanley Cup Champion, Corey Crawford was one of the best to pull on the pads.

Corey Crawford (50)
Corey Crawford #50 of the Chicago Blackhawks. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) /

Again, he may not get the credit and the recognition that he deserves, especially outside of Chicago, but he will always be a cherished member of that Blackhawks championship dynasty.

It isn’t clear whether Crawford’s No. 50 jersey will hang in the United Center rafters or whether he will make it to the Hall of Fame, you can make a strong case for both, but his place in both franchise history and the annals of NHL history remains intact.

And, having battled concussion issues over the last few years, Corey Crawford can now look forward to the next chapter in life with his family, safe in the knowledge that he gave it everything he had and left a lasting mark on the game he so loved.

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And a lasting impact on those of us who watched him make breathtaking save after breathtaking save in the biggest moments.

Happy retirement, Corey, and thank you for everything.