Blackhawks Magazine excerpt: For Love of the Game
The following feature appears in the November 2013 issue of Blackhawks Magazine. Pick up the newest issue of the magazine at the next Blackhawks home game, or by calling the Blackhawks Store at (800) GO-HAWKS.
With a 16-7 record and a 1.84 goals-against average, Corey Crawford was the backbone of the Blackhawks’ drive to the 2013 Stanley Cup. He was so important that Patrick Kane, who received the Conn Smythe Trophy as most valuable individual during the postseason, volunteered that Crawford was the “best player in the playoffs.” Crawford didn’t get the award, but he was rewarded with a six-year contract extension. Here, Crawford discusses his excellent year with Blackhawks Magazine.
You and your teammates had an amazing run from January to June this year. When did it finally sink in?
It was gradual, and it took awhile. Every day I woke up, it felt more real. And every day for the first week or so after we won, it seemed like they were showing those last two minutes of Game 6 in Boston on television.
You had a good view of history: two goals, 17 seconds apart, for a 3-2 Cup-clinching victory.
Actually, I never saw (Bryan) Bickell’s goal that tied it. I had come off for a sixth skater and was sitting on our bench. All the guys started jumping up and down in front of me, going crazy. Then I went back on the ice, thinking, “OK, let’s shut them down and win it in overtime.”
What were you thinking when Dave Bolland scored?
I celebrated. But I’m not sure what else I was thinking, except to stay focused while those final few seconds ticked off the clock. I sure didn’t want overtime then. Last thing I wanted was to give one up after all that and have it be 3-3. It’s hard to describe the feeling at the end. Watching the clock, 3… 2… 1.
After paying your dues in the minor leagues before you finally made it to the NHL and became the Blackhawks’ number one goalie, might you have appreciated the Stanley Cup more than some of the other guys?
I don’t know about that phrase, “paying your dues.” You hear it a lot. But just because you spend a few seasons in the minors working as hard as you can and waiting for a chance, that doesn’t mean you should be given anything. You don’t deserve an automatic promotion just because you put in time.
Well, were you relieved? Proud?
Of course you’re excited. You dream of winning a Stanley Cup so much as a kid, it almost becomes too big. There are frustrations and emotional swings in the minors. I didn’t doubt my ability, but I wondered whether I would get my chance. I would have liked to make the NHL sooner than I did, but that wasn’t the case. I was still playing a game I love, with a great organization, and I think I grew as a player and a person.
You made a number of huge saves during the two-month Cup run. But talk about how you responded after not making one in Game 6 at Detroit. Was that a defining moment?
I guess, yeah, it was probably one of them. We were facing elimination, I let in a soft goal during the second period, and the Red Wings went up 2-1. The puck knuckled a little, but still, from that distance, it was a bad goal. There was nothing I could do about it, and I just had to focus on not giving up another one.
And with three goals in the third period, the Blackhawks won 4-3.
Our guys came together, as they usually do. We had a calm group, and very confident. If we play the way we can, we believe we’re never out of a game. We have a lot of great leaders.
Are you among them?
I don’t think so. I don’t have to be, not with all the guys in the room who have won two Cups and know what it takes.
Your guys seem to like playing in front of you.
I hope so. I don’t go around asking them, but I know I like playing with them in front of me.