Corey Crawford at the Blackhawks’ Convention: ‘It hasn’t been easy, but I’ll be back’

CHICAGO – Not only has his condition been kept under wraps, but his sightings have too.

Since he stopped practicing in February, not many fans have seen Corey Crawford around as he continued to deal with the upper body injury that cost him most of the 2017-2018 season. The mystery has caused a fair amount of concern even as the organization said publicly that they expect him back this season.

Friday was a chance to finally see Crawford in person at the team’s annual convention at the Hilton Chicago, a positive sign for some that he’ll return in net for the upcoming campaign.

“It hasn’t been easy, but I’ll be back,” said Crawford, who held his first news conference since the Winter on Friday.

Yet there is some mystery surrounding the goalie, who continued to be coy with his injury and recovery.

“I’m not going to get into what I’m doing right now,” said Crawford of his offseason work. “Treatments are going well, and we’re making small steps. I’m getting a little better so it’s a process, it’s been a process since I left in December. ”

That was on December 23rd, when Crawford allowed three first period goals to the Devils and was pulled from the game in New Jersey. He briefly appeared for a few on-ice practices in February but was then held out the rest of the year. Since then, there has been plenty of unknown¬† around the goalie whose absence from the Blackhawks’ lineup was perhaps the biggest reason the team didn’t make the playoffs for the first time in a decade.

“I think now everyone realizes what we’ve been saying for six years now – that this guy is overlooked often times when people are talking about the best goalies in the NHL, for whatever reason,” said general manager Stan Bowman of Crawford – who went 16-9-1 before his injury. “I never understood why he wasn’t in that discussion. But I think now with him not being here it seems like he now is getting noticed for how important he is.”

How much Crawford will get a chance to add to that is something only time will tell as his recovery continues from now till the opening of Training Camp in September.

“I’m not at 100 percent yet, but we’ve come a long way in the last couple of months,” said Crawford. “I worked really hard to do whatever I can to get better and I’m excited to be here right now, see all the guys, and get that feeling of being back in it.”

When that will be, just as it has always been in 2018, is the question.