So Long, Crow—and Other Stuff of Lesser Import

The message to Corey and to everyone else today is that we’ve decided we have some young goaltenders here in Chicago we believe in. –Stan Bowman

The indignities never cease.

We all sort of knew it was coming, but it doesn’t make it hurt any less. The Hawks won’t be re-signing Corey Crawford. There are few superlatives you can apply to Corey Crawford that could adequately describe what he meant to this franchise. The most playoff wins for a Hawks goalie ever (52), two Cups, a .918 SV% over 14 years in a league that didn’t employ dog catchers and train hoppers on the top lines, and countless instances of pulling the Hawks’s collective ass out of a sling when they didn’t deserve anything more than swirlee.

He’s always been our Dangerfield. From bringing in Marty Turco for REASONS; to walking smegma trap Pierre McGuire costing him a Conn Smythe with that WEAK GLOVE horseshit that fueled a fire of giardiniera fartin’, cousin fuckin’ angst among the unwashed; to the constant bus tossings the organ-I-zation couldn’t wet themselves quickly enough to dole out in an effort to offshore blame, Corey Crawford never really got the respect he deserved.

We’ve said it before, we’ll say it again: His number belongs in the rafters. I’ll go so far as to say he should go down as the greatest goaltender in Hawks history. Better than Tony O. Better than Glenn Hall. Better than Belfour.

Corey Crawford (and a pandemic, obviously) took this year’s version of the Chicago Blackhawks—a team that iced one of the worst defenses in recent memory—to the playoffs. We surely don’t need to remind you of the Cam Ward/Collin Delia trainwreck of last year, wherein goaltenders not named Corey Crawford averaged a 3.64 GAA and .900 SV%. Throughout his career, Crow made excellent teams into world beaters and pisspoor teams into something feigning passable.

Save his FUCKIN’ RIGHT moment, Crow did it all with quiet, big-dick confidence. No moment ever seemed too big or overwhelming—not even the rough start he had to the Nashville series in ‘15, which Crow came back to save in the end. His memory was short (thanks in no small part to the Hawks’s complete dereliction of player safety, we’re sure), his butterfly pristine, and his presence the one thing you could nearly always count on.

Now we get to worry about the Hawks exploring a trade for Marc-Andre Fleury and his $7 million cap hit, because that has Stan Bowman written all fucking over it. And the free agent market isn’t particularly appetizing, unless you’re counting on a big bounce back from Holtby or are willing to rely on, like, Cam the Magic Talbot. We’d love it if Malcolm Subban would slot in, but, ya know. Collin Delia and Kevin Lankinen behind this defense? The Hawks may not win 15 games next year if that’s what they go with.

You can talk about Crow’s age and recent health as reasons not to re-sign him, along with the Hawks’s tenuous cap positioning. We get that, but we don’t buy it. And it’s possible, perhaps even likely, that Crawford told everyone in the front office to cram whatever offer they had up their ass and spin. That’s the version I’m going to believe, regardless of the fact that that doesn’t seem like Crawford’s style. But it’s hard to look past the difference between the Hawks with Crawford and without him. It’s not like Crow underperformed last year, after all.

It’s tough to lose the best goaltender in team history, someone who still has cornerstone performances in him. It’s a heartbreaker that it’s Crawford, someone who did so much right, so little wrong, and still got unduly treated like he’s not the greatest goaltender the organization’s ever seen.

Of every game I’ve seen and experience I’ve had related to Crow, the one I’ll remember most was meeting him at a signing in a fucking mattress store. What struck me most was how kind, humble, and grateful he was to be in the position he was in. It was a fleeting moment, but I’ll never forget how there wasn’t the slightest hint of arrogance in him. That’s truly a marvel for an athlete of his pedigree.

So long, Crow. A cornerstone on two Cup winners, Crow was also the biggest reason the Hawks even feigned competitiveness over the last three years (Lehner was good too, but fuck him). Without him, the house of cards looks to fall apart.

But as they say, nothing gold can stay.

– In other news of less import, the Hawks traded Olli Maatta for some guy on the Kings. A pure salary dump move, kudos to Bowman for getting anything at all back for Maatta. While it’s a foregone conclusion that Brad Morrison won’t be Dominik Kubalik, he can be a depth centerman on Rockford or something. Maybe. It doesn’t matter. What does matter is that a spot has opened up for Ian “Good Fucking Luck, Kid” Mitchell, provided Coach Nathan For You keeps the press box buffet stocked.

– The draft was whatever. You sort of got the feeling that Crow wasn’t coming back with the Hawks selecting Drew Commesso in the second round. Their first rounder, LW Lukas Reichel, doesn’t move many needles at first glance. But in a tradition started by Fels, we’re not going to pretend we watch anything related to juniors. He’s from Europe, which has always boded well for the Hawks. Outside that, we don’t expect anyone from this draft class to make any difference one way or another under the current Kane and Toews contract terms.

That’s all for now.