Corey Crawford returns to Blackhawks’ practice, but when will he play?

CHICAGO – The most positive sign of the still very young Blackhawks’ campaign came during a workout at MB Ice Arena on a Monday before the season even begins.

Goaltender Corey Crawford joined the Blackhawks for practice, a first since being medically cleared to take part in full workouts. He’s been recovering from a concussion since December of 2017, and so far in training camp was only working out before practice with coaches and a few teammates.

But on Monday, he came out in full pads with the rest of the squad, just three days before the Blackhawks’ 2018-2019 season opener in Ottawa Thursday against the Senators.

“It felt pretty good for the first time,” said Crawford to Blackhawks’ TV. “We’ll just go from there, but it was a good start.”

Naturally, the biggest question for Blackhawks fans is when the goalie might return to the crease for this year’s team. Crawford hasn’t played since December 23, 2017, when he left a road game against the Devils after allowing three quick goals.

He spent the rest of the 2017-2018 season and was a major reason the team missed the playoffs for the first time in a decade. Quenneville confirmed he’s cleared to play and will travel with the team to Ottawa and St. Louis for the team’s first two games.

Quenneville, however, cautioned reporters not to read much into it, and that work is left to be done.

Taken by the Blackhawks in the second round of the 2003 NHL Draft, Crawford is entering his 12th season with the team. Before his concussion last year, the goalie was on his way to a strong season, going 16-9-2 with a 2.27 goals against average.

Maybe he’ll get the chance to add onto his Blackhawks legacy sooner than later this season even this progress continues.