Crawford Signs New Deal with Blackhawks

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By Chris Kuc Tribune reporter1:08 p.m. CDT, September 2, 2013

Corey Crawforford took some time away from his day with the Stanley Cup to do a little business.

The goaltender agreed to a six-year contract extension with the Blackhawks on Monday, the same day Crawford had the Cup in his hometown of Montreal to celebrate backstopping the Hawks to their second championship in four years.

“Being able to get a chance to bring the Cup back home (with) all the people I played minor hockey with and grew up with and all my family was pretty special to start off — to add this on top of it is amazing,” Crawford said during a break in festivities surrounding his day with the Cup. “I want to be in Chicago for my whole career and this is amazing to be able to do this and get this deal done.”

Agreeing to the deal worth a reported $36 million capped a stretch during the 28-year-old’s life when Crawford got engaged, helped the Hawks to the Cup, attended Team Canada’s Olympic orientation camp and had his day with the cherished trophy.

“It’s just been getting better and better,” Crawford said. “I’m on a bit of a high right now and hopefully I don’t come down from it. The last couple of months have been great.”

Crawford’s contract — which more than doubles his current salary—runs through the end of the 2019-20 season and locks in another core member of the Hawks, even if it will carry an annual salary-cap hit of $6 million beginning with the ’14-15 campaign. General manager Stan Bowman said bringing Crawford into the fold long term was always part of the plan and the main impetus toward letting Antti Niemi become a free agent following the Hawks’ run to the Cup in ’10.

The cap figures to rise — perhaps dramatically — in the years after the ’13-14 campaign when it will be $64.3 million.

“The salary cap is something you have to certainly plan for and think about as an organization,” Bowman said. “The reality is, we need to have a top-notch goaltender in our organization and we have one right in-house here with Corey. We know him well. He’s grown up with our organization and he’s earned the ultimate with our group. There was never a question in our minds that we want to commit to him. It’s the most important position we have and we have a lot of faith in his ability to continue. He’s a young goalie and he’s certainly worked hard to get himself to the NHL he’s proven he can do it at the highest level.

“One of the factors that went into us making the move back in 2010 was we knew we had Corey in the wings here ready to take on a bigger role,” Bowman added. “We’ve had a strategy going back a few seasons.”

The plan worked to perfection as Crawford combined with Ray Emery in ’13 to win the William M. Jennings Trophy as the tandem with the top goaltending in the league. After a regular season during which he went 19-5-5 with a 1.94 goals-against average and .926 save percentage, Crawford was at his best in the playoffs when he posted a 16-7 record, 1.84 goals-against and.932 save percentage.

Crawford said being locked in long term won’t alter his approach to the game.

“I don’t think it changes at all,” he said. “Every year the goal is to win. We work hard during the summer to get to a certain point in our training. Going into the season the goal is to win every year. It was fun to win last year and have a fun summer with it. At one point you’re just going to have to shut it off and start all over again.

“I’m just going to compete hard like I’ve always done,” Crawford added. “I’m looking forward to next year. It’s going to be great.”

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