Why Collin Delia could emerge as Blackhawks' starting goalie

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Scott King
·3 min read
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Why Collin Delia could emerge as Blackhawks' starting goalie originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

Entering the Blackhawks' goalie sweepstakes at training camp, Collin Delia had as good a chance as Malcolm Subban or Kevin Lankinen to emerge as the starter from the battling trio.

Related: Why the Blackhawks' goalie competition is about more than determining the starter

In the offseason, the Hawks chose to move on from two-time Stanley Cup champion goalie Corey Crawford, who later signed a two-year contract with the New Jersey Devils but decided to retire in the middle of the Devils' training camp on Saturday. 

Delia, 26, learned a lot from Crawford the last few seasons as Collin received more opportunities with the Blackhawks. 

"I learned a great deal from Crow," Delia said shortly after Crawford's retirement was announced on Saturday. "The lessons that I took away from him are absolutely invaluable. He taught me how to be a pro and he really set a great example, not only for myself, but for the other goalies in the organization. His laser focus when he was on the ice was absolutely superb. I think just the way he handled himself, he never lost his composure. He always had it under control. ... I was really fortunate to serve under him a little bit, just tried to be a sponge around him."

Related: What Blackhawks goalie Malcolm Subban is working on while competing to be starter

Delia certainly doesn't have the NHL experience Crawford did, but his demeanor is similar in being cool, calm and collected.

Collin went 7-5-3 with a 3.65 goals-against average and a .906 save percentage in 18 games with the Blackhawks across the 2017-18 and 2018-19 seasons. 

With the Hawks' American Hockey League affiliate the Rockford IceHogs, Delia rebounded nicely with the IceHogs last year after a tough start to the season, going 16-13-2 with a 2.66 goals-against average and a .912 save percentage in 32 games. 

The Rancho Cucamonga, California native seemed to be in high standing in the Blackhawks coaches' eyes as of Sunday night — Day 6 of camp — when he was the starting goalie for Team Red, which had the Blackhawks' projected top-six forwards and top D-pairing, in the annual Red and White scrimmage at the United Center.

Team White, mostly made up of youngsters trying to earn a spot or future consideration, beat Team Red 8-2. Given the lop-sided score, it could be surmised Team Red was going through the motions a bit and had less on the line in their showing. Delia allowed three goals before being relieved by Matt Tomkins at the midway point of the scrimmage. Subban swapped with Lankinen halfway through for White as well.

Related: How Kevin Lankinen is trying to will dream of becoming Blackhawks' starter

"I think I'm getting better every day, I think that was a goal of mine, just keep getting better, getting sharper every day," Delia said on Saturday. "And I think my reads are there. One thing that I worked a lot on in the summer is just getting eyes on the puck as soon as I can. That's one thing that I think I've been able to highlight in camp so far. One thing I want to continue with is just keeping that consistent. 

"I think overall [it's] just competing day in and day out. One thing that's been good coming into camp is some of the drills that we're doing are PK (penalty kill) drills and having O-zone (offensive zone) time and that's good for us as goaltenders because during the summer, it's really hard to simulate that type of intensity and traffic in front of the net."

We'll see how the goalie competition plays out soon with the Hawks' season opener being Wednesday at the Tampa Bay Lightning.

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