Crawford says playing time more vital than money in talks with Blackhawks

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Corey Crawford wants to stay with the Chicago Blackhawks, and the pending unrestricted free agent goalie said Tuesday that playing time is more important than money.

“I think we still have a lot of great pieces on this team and to win another [Stanley] Cup in Chicago would be unbelievable,” said Crawford, who is planning to discuss his future with general manager Stan Bowman this week.  

“Going into the meeting, that’s the main thing is to win a championship, to play, to be the main guy and play a lot,” Crawford said. “Salary, that can be discussed. That’s something that is not as important at this time. We’ll see how those discussions go.”

Crawford started all nine of Chicago’s games this postseason, going 4-5 with a 3.31 goal-against average and .907 save percentage. The Blackhawks, the No. 12 seed heading into the Stanley Cup Qualifiers, defeated the No. 5 seed Edmonton Oilers in four games. As the No. 8 seed for the Western Conference First Round, they lost to the No. 1 seed Vegas Golden Knights in five games. 

Video: CHI@VGK, Gm5: Crawford extends to deny Smith

Though he wants to stay, the 35-year-old said he’s still unsure how much longer he wants to play. 

“At this point, for the Blackhawks and for myself, I think short term may be better, but who knows?” he said. “I change my mind pretty quick. I could turn around and say, ‘Let’s sign something longer, three or four years,’ and maybe they decide, ‘OK, let’s do that.’ Until we talk and really discuss all the options, it’s really hard to say right now.”

Crawford, who won the Stanley Cup with the Blackhawks in 2013 and 2015, is 260-162-53 with a 2.45 GAA, .918 save percentage and 26 shutouts in 488 NHL games (474 starts), all with Chicago. 

He missed a total of 80 games over the previous two seasons because of concussions but was 16-20-3 with a 2.77 goals-against average, .917 save percentage and one shutout in 40 games (39 starts) before the season was paused March 12 due to concerns surrounding the coronavirus. He missed all but the final day of Chicago’s training camp after testing positive for COVID-19.

Crawford split time with goalie Robin Lehner, who was signed as a free agent on July 1, 2019, until Feb. 24, when the Blackhawks traded Lehner to the Toronto Maple Leafs, who then traded him to the Golden Knights. Crawford started the final 10 regular-season games for the Blackhawks, going 6-4-0.

“I could understand their point of view (on signing Lehner), with me having a couple of injuries when I was out for a long period of time,” Crawford said. “But when I’m back healthy, I expect to play most of the games. It was nice to get back into net consistently and play well toward the end of the season, for sure.

“It’s just little details, little things throughout the game are easier to come by when you’re playing a ton. I think for me it’s just if we’re going to sign again, it’s the amount of time I’m going to be on the ice and how much I can contribute.”

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