The Corey Crawford era in Chicago officially came to an end on Thursday after Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman announced the team would not re-sign the veteran goaltender who was drafted by the organization in the second round (No. 52 overall) of the 2003 NHL Draft.
No goaltender in franchise history has more postseason wins (52) or Stanley Cups (two) than Crawford and only Scott Darling (.923) has a higher regular-season save percentage than Crawford's .918. And yet no player was more under-appreciated during the Blackhawks' Stanley Cup runs than No. 50.
Since he became a full-time starter in 2010-11, Crawford had a 67.4 goals saved above average during the regular season and a .918 save percentage in the postseason. Read that again and let that sink in.
While he was invaluable during the 2013 and 2015 Stanley Cup runs, Crawford's value was especially evident in the years that followed.
In 2017-18, Crawford started 16-9-2 with a 2.27 goals-against average, .929 save percentage and two shutouts in 28 appearances before his season ended because of a concussion. He had a 15.3 goals saved above average, which is absurd for only 28 games.
The Blackhawks had a 16-26-5 record the rest of the way after Crawford's injury and missed the playoffs for the first time in 10 seasons. The four goaltenders the Blackhawks used in his absence had a combined goals saved above average of minus-15.9 and .902 save percentage.
It took a couple years for Crawford to regain his top form, but he resembled his old self this season by finishing with a .917 save percentage on the NHL’s worst defensive team statistically. And he only got better as he strung together more starts.
From Jan. 27 and on, Crawford went 7-7-1 with a 2.46 goals-against average, .927 save percentage, 7.6 goals saved above average and 9.76 high-danger goals saved above average, which ranked No. 1 among all goaltenders over that span. He turned in a vintage performance in Game 4 of the first round against Vegas after stopping 48 of 49 shots for a save percentage of .980.
Even at age 35, Crawford proved he was still a valuable piece for the Blackhawks. It's scary to think where they would've been this season without him.
The Blackhawks are about to embark on a new chapter and find out what life is like without Crawford. And it sure won’t feel the same.