Without a doubt, the 2017-18 season has been the most disappointing season of Chicago Blackhawks hockey in over a decade. The perennial Stanley Cup contenders are currently at the bottom of the NHL’s Central Division and a clear 11 points out of a Stanley Cup Playoff berth.
With the NHL’s Monday trade deadline just days away, Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman’s focus is on trading away veteran players for future assets, rather than loading up for another Stanley Cup run. All in all, it’s a sad state of affairs.
Without a doubt, one of the biggest reasons for the Hawks’ struggles this season has been the absence of starting goaltender Corey Crawford. The 33-year-old netminder has been on the injured reserve since going down with a concussion back in December. At first, the team was hopeful that they’d get Crawford back in time for the stretch drive and a playoff push, but that no longer looks to be the case.
Head coach Joel Quenneville, for one, does not seem optimistic that his goaltender will return this season. “We’ll see on that,” Quenneville said to the Chicago Tribune’s Paul Skrbina. “Before, we were (optimistic). Now, where we’re at …”
“Before we were [optimistic about Crawford’s return this season],” Quenneville said Wednesday before the Hawks hosted the Senators at United Center. “Where we’re at, his health’s going to dictate all that.”
When asked if it’s because of where the Hawks are at in the standings, Quenneville said: “That might be part of it. But once he gets healthy that’ll be the next decision.”
Ouch. That doesn’t sound like a confident coach.
Officially, Crawford is out of the lineup with “vertigo-like” symptoms, but conflicting reports, including an outright admonishing of those report from Bowman himself, makes it tricky to suss out just what the issue may be. Regardless, with the Hawks so far out of the playoff picture, would they be smart to simply sit Crawford out the rest of the season? What can be gained from putting him in for the team’s final 10 or 15 games? Is it better to let him rest up so that he’s fully healthy and ready to go for 2018-19? Or would you rather see Crow back between the pipes?