CHICAGO – One of the biggest questions that surrounded their summer training camp at Fifth Third Arena was why Corey Crawford wasn’t on the ice.
Due to an agreement between the NHL’s teams and players, those who were not working out could only be described as being “unfit to play.” On Saturday, fans found out why the team’s No. 1 goalie wasn’t on the ice.
During his news conference on Saturday, the first which he was on the ice during training camp, Crawford revealed that he was diagnosed with COVID-19. He was forced to quarantine at his residence in Chicago, which prevented him from taking the ice with the rest of his teammates.
“It was a lot tougher at the start,” said Crawford of dealing with the virus. “The first few days I started feeling symptoms, that was the hardest.”
The goaltender was in the net on Saturday as he took part in the team’s final workout before they leave for Edmonton to begin work for the NHL Tournament. They’ll start that one week from Saturday against the Oilers, which begins a five-game preliminary round series.
Crawford was expected to start that before camp began, but his COVID-19 bout delayed his ability to get in shape for the season. Even as he felt better, the goalie and the Blackhawks were cautious about starting workouts too early.
“The last couple of weeks, maybe a little bit more, was a little bit easier. So I still couldn’t do much, just in case there was something wrong with my lungs or my heart,” said Crawford. “So we had to get that checked out first before we really started pushing in the gym more or come on the ice.”
With that extra time, Crawford said that he’s fully cleared to begin his work to try get back into shape for the Oilers series. It could be an uphill battle, considering the team had no organized activities since March and the goaltender never got on the ice during the two-week Chicago training camp.
Backups Collin Delia, Kevin Lankinen, Malcolm Subban, and Matt Tomkins have been splitting reps in goal in case Crawford didn’t return or can’t be ready for the first few games in Edmonton.
Obviously there’s not much time. I’ve never been a guy who skates much in the summer anyway. But I feel like it takes a few practices just to get your legs under you,” said Crawford. “Today felt decent for the first time on the ice. I’m just gonna try to build off of that.”
Corey will try to do so quickly as he works his way into game shape while also recovering from COVID-19.