The 36-year-old goalie, who won the Stanley Cup with the Chicago Blackhawks in 2013 and 2015, had taken an indefinite leave of absence from the New Jersey Devils for personal reasons on Friday after missing five consecutive practices during training camp.
“I have been fortunate to have had a long career playing professional hockey for a living,” Crawford said. “I wanted to continue my career, but believe I’ve given all I can to the game of hockey, and I have decided that it is time to retire. I would like to thank the New Jersey Devils organization for understanding and supporting my decision. I would like to thank the Chicago Blackhawks organization for giving me the chance to live my childhood dream.”
Crawford agreed to a two-year, $7.8 million contract with the Devils on Oct. 11 after spending 13 seasons with the Blackhawks from 2005-2020. He was 260-162-53 with a 2.45 goals-against average, .918 save percentage and 26 shutouts in 488 regular-season games, and ranks third on Chicago’s all-time wins list.
He was 52-42 with a 2.38 GAA, .918 save percentage and five shutouts in 96 Stanley Cup Playoff games. Crawford’s 52 playoff wins is a Blackhawks record.
“Corey has an unforgettable place within our organization, in our fans’ hearts and in Chicago sports history,” the Blackhawks said in a statement. “We congratulate Corey on a Hall of Fame-worthy playing career — one we celebrate with him today as a member of the Blackhawks family forevermore.
“‘Crow’ is not only one of the greatest goaltenders in Chicago Blackhawks franchise history but was also a pillar in our local community throughout his entire career. … he thrilled a generation of Blackhawks fans over the last decade-plus while bringing the city of Chicago two Stanley Cups. We wish him, his wife Kristy, and sons, Cooper and Camden, nothing but the best in this next chapter.”
Blackhawks forward Patrick Kane, who played with Crawford for 13 seasons, said Crawford’s contributions went well beyond stopping pucks.
“He was an unbelievable player and obviously a big part of our championships here, a big part of the organization for the past 10-15 years,” Kane said Saturday. “He’s great guy to be around, he always seemed to be in a good mood, always competed in practice. He helped me get better just in practice. Obviously, I still feel he’s playing at a really high level, going back to last year in the playoffs. I guess just wish him all the best. Obviously, we’ll have conversations and talk to him, but sometimes there are bigger things than hockey and wish him all the best in the future.”
Crawford, who missed 80 games during the previous two seasons because of concussions, was 16-20-3 with a 2.77 GAA, .917 save percentage and one shutout in 40 games (39 starts) last season.
Devils coach Lindy Ruff said he was looking forward to having Crawford play for New Jersey this season.
“My initial thoughts are disappointment,” Ruff said. “Corey’s had an incredible career. conversations that I’ve had with him, I understand where he’s at and I think the fact that he’s had a great career and he’s come to this point, you deal with it and you move on. it’s something that obviously was deep in his mind.
“We all had conversations with him, you know, started with [Devils general manager] Tom [Fitzgerald], myself, [Devils VP and Hall of Fame goalie Martin Brodeur]. You know, you just understand where he was at. I think those initial conversations are, ‘How can we help you, is there something we can change, all those type of conversations. … But it really wasn’t about any of that.”
Crawford said he was grateful for his time with the Blackhawks, highlighted by Chicago’s Cup victories during his tenure.
“I am proud to have been part of winning two Stanley Cups in Chicago,” Crawford said. “Thank you to all of my teammates and coaches throughout the years. Also, thank you to the fans who make this great game what it is. I am happy and excited to move on to the next chapter of my life with my family.”
NHL.com Staff Writer Tracey Myers contributed to this report
Photos courtesy: HHoF Images
Mark Messier on Walter Gretzky: He made you ‘feel good about yourself’ – Sportsnet.ca
Many Canadians have fond memories and stories of meeting Walter Gretzky, whether it was in a hockey arena, at a charity event or perhaps somewhere in Brantford, Ont. Mark Messier is no different.
The six-time Stanley Cup champion got to know Walter and the Gretzky family while he played with Wayne Gretzky on the Edmonton Oilers in the 80s. Walter, known as Canada’s beloved hockey dad, passed away at the age of 82 on Thursday.
To Messier, Walter was a good friend to everyone.
“Walter always had a way of making you feel good about yourself,” Messier told Arash Madani and Stephen Brunt on Friday’s edition of Sportsnet Today. “Even after we’d be down on ourselves after a tough loss, he had a nice way of keeping things in perspective. He’d always turn the page and [be] looking forward to the next game.”
There was a big focus on family in Edmonton, Messier said, with not only teammates becoming great friends but also the players’ parents forging their own relationships with each other.
Messier said that Wayne and Walter had a “beautiful relationship,” noting that Walter along with wife Phyllis Gretzky were instrumental in making The Great One the person he is today.
“Walter and Phyllis did an amazing job of keeping Wayne grounded, protecting him when they needed to, exposing him when it was needed,” Messier said. “But I think the life lessons that Walter and Phyllis passed down to Wayne has shone through his career. Wayne had time for everybody.”
Just like many other Canadian families, Messier said the Gretzky family was hard-working and always made an effort to be good citizens.
“They didn’t lose sight of the fact that the most important things were keeping your integrity and being honest and being truthful, and I think those are the Canadian characteristics that we all can recognize in great people, and Wayne had it because of his parents.”
With Wayne’s massive success in the NHL, Walter quickly became a public figure and a Canadian icon on his own. In hindsight of the celebrity status he developed during his life, Messier said Walter was “pretty shy” when he first got to know him and that Walter tried to stay out of the spotlight.
“It became evident to him later on—he became a celebrity in his own right,” Messier said. “He was on the speaking circuit, the charity circuit, watching youth hockey games, being invited to events. I think he really embraced it after a while.
“I think he actually really felt responsibility to give back. He understood the gravity of the situation where he could be helpful to young boys and girls.”
Philipp Kurashev scores in shootout as Blackhawks beat Lightning – Sportsnet.ca
Alex DeBrincat scored twice and Dominik Kubalik added a goal in regulation for the Blackhawks, who lost their first three games to the Lightning this season. Malcolm Subban made 39 saves, plus three more in the shootout.
“We were resilient tonight,” Blackhawks coach Jeremy Colliton said. “We gritted it out, whether it’s the saves we got or the penalty kills. We blocked a lot of shots and got clears when we needed to.”
Anthony Cirelli, Alex Killorn and Ryan McDonough scored for the Lightning, and Curtis McElhinney stopped 24 shots.
Chicago improved to 4-1-1 in its past six games and snapped Tampa Bay’s six-game winning streak. On Thursday night, the Lightning won 3-2 in overtime on Alex Killorn’s buzzer-beating goal.
“They were probably better last night, and we win,” Tampa Bay coach John Cooper said. “Both teams probably know who was a little better tonight, and they end up winning. It comes out even.”
McDonough made it 3-2 off a big rebound 3:20 into the third period, jumping on Killorn’s drive and beating Subban from 10 feet.
Kubalik tied it 1:40 later by poking home the fluttering shot of defenceman Duncan Keith for his fourth goal in six games.
Overtime started with a flurry of chances for both teams. McElhinney stopped Patrick Kane on a pair breakaways in the first two minutes, and Tampa Bay also had several odd-man chances. Subban held strong despite a hard collision with Steven Stamkos, then denied Victor Hedman, Brayden Point and Stamkos in the shootout.
“We gave up a lot of chances, a lot of breakaways he stopped, and he’s the reason we won,” DeBrincat said.
Tampa Bay scored twice in the first 11 minutes, only to see Chicago tie it early in the second period.
Cirelli got behind Keith and rebounded Point’s shot at 2:51 for his third goal in four games. Killorn made it 2-0 at 10:27 with a power-play goal, tipping Hedman’s shot from the high slot.
DeBrincat scored less than three minutes later. The 100th goal of his NHL career was a power-play goal, a wrist shot from the left circle with Blake Coleman off for hooking.
DeBrincat, who had 18 goals in 70 games last season, scored his 14th in 21 games this year 7:08 into the second period, parking low in the left circle before one-timing a pass from Kane to tie it.
“This is a tough challenge,” McDonough said of the three-game series with Chicago. “We’ve got one more crack at them in a couple of days and have to take advantage of it.”
Blackhawks defenceman Calvin DeHaan crumpled to the ice after blocking Ondrej Palat’s snapshot 2:12 into the final period and eventually limped to the bench. He went to the locker room and did not return.
Tampa Bay played only two overtime games in its first 20 contests but were taken to overtime for the second game in two nights by the Blackhawks, running their season total to four. Columbus and Carolina were the other teams to force the Lightning past 60 minutes, and only Carolina scored a victory.
Blackhawks defenceman Brent Seabrook received a video tribute on the scoreboard Friday night, hours after he announced his retirement because of injuries, saying his right hip wouldn’t heal enough to allow him to play following surgery. Seabrook was a key part of the Blackhawks’ Stanley Cup winning teams in 2010, 2013 and 2015, as well as Canada’s 2010 Olympic champions.
Tampa Bay and Chicago conclude their three-game series on Sunday at United Center.
Vasilevskiy shutout streak ends for Lightning against Blackhawks – NHL.com
Andrei Vasilevskiy had his shutout streak ended at 228:09 when the Tampa Bay Lightning goalie allowed a shorthanded goal in the second period against the Chicago Blackhawks on Thursday.
Ryan Caprenter scored at 7:24 to deny Vasilevskiy a fourth straight shutout.
Vasilevskiy broke the Lightning record of 202:46, which was set by John Grahame in 2005-06.
Brian Boucher holds the modern-era NHL records for most consecutive shutouts (five) and longest streak without allowing a goal (332:01), set from Dec. 22, 2003 through Jan. 11, 2004, with five straight shutouts from Dec. 31-Jan. 9 for the Phoenix Coyotes.
Vasilevskiy had the 15th streak of three straight shutouts in the NHL since Boucher had five. Ilya Bryzgalov has the second-longest streak of the modern era, 249:43 with the Philadelphia Flyers from March 6-15, 2012. The NHL recognizes the modern era as beginning with the 1943-44 season, when the center red line was introduced.
“A lot of guys have done back to back (shutouts) and you feel good, it feels awesome and you know your stats are reflecting it,” Boucher said this week. “But once you get halfway through two and a half (games) you start to feel like, ‘Man, I’ve got something cooking here.’ You start to feel that you might not get beat. How long that lasts is the big question, but the confidence you feel when you have this going is just something you don’t feel all the time. It’s just weird, hard to describe. You start to almost feel like you’re superhuman.”
Vasilevskiy made 73 saves in his three straight shutouts and 108 in the shutout streak of more than 11 periods. He hadn’t allowed a goal since Feb. 22, when Carolina Hurricanes forward Jesper Fast scored on a power play at 19:15 of the second period.
Vasilevskiy made 25 saves in a 3-0 win against the Hurricanes on Feb. 24, 20 saves in a 5-0 win against the Dallas Stars on Feb. 27, and 28 saves in a 2-0 win against the Stars on Tuesday.
He was 13-3-1 with a 1.65 goals-against average, .942 save percentage and three shutouts entering Thursday.
“You can give him the first, second and third (place) votes for the Vezina (Trophy),” Boucher said of the award for best NHL goalie. “Just from a pure talent standpoint he is the best goalie in the League. Whether he wins the Vezina or not, nobody matches up to his capabilities in net. No chance. Some people have talent and never live up to the expectations. He’s living up to the expectations. We’re not clamoring for more. We’re wondering if he can get more, but we’re not clamoring for it. We see greatness.”
Mark Messier on Walter Gretzky: He made you ‘feel good about yourself’ – Sportsnet.ca
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