After coming off a Conn Smythe Trophy-caliber playoff run and his first Stanley Cup championship, Blackhawks netminder Corey Crawford enters training camp with a new contract, a higher profile and greater expectations. chicagoblackhawks.com caught up with the goalie known as "Crow" after he took part in the team's first on-ice practice on Thursday at Notre Dame's Compton Family Ice Arena.
How did it feel to get back out onto the ice again?
It felt good. I was a little excited this morning to get back with the guys and start this again. It’s always been fun playing on this team and from the first day, it’s fun again. It’s been a blast so far.
You had such a short offseason this summer, just over two months from when the team won the Cup. How did that affect what you did this offseason to prepare?
It didn’t affect me too much. I made sure to make time to do my workouts and get into shape. There’s no excuses for getting in here and not being ready. I made time for everything.
You and Ray Emery had a pretty good working relationship for the past two seasons. Now that Nikolai Khabibulin is back in Chicago, what do you think he will be able to bring to the locker room?
GAA: 1.84 | Sv%: .932
Well, he’s a pretty good goalie – that definitely will give me a chance to rest every once in a while. He’s going to battle for ice time, too. I think we’ll have that competitive edge like Razor and I had. I’d known him before, and he’s a good guy in the room. We’re happy to have him here.
You mentioned that you knew him before, from his last stint in Chicago… what kind of rapport did you have with him?
I never spent a season with him – I was up and down from the minors. But he’s always been an easy guy to talk to and to joke around with. He was really good for me when I was a rookie coming in. I was a young guy, and I didn’t know much. He was always very nice about it, and really easy to approach.
What do you think you learned from him?
He worked really hard – really hard. Early in my pro career, I think I really had to work on my work ethic, and he was someone to look up to, and watch how he handled things at practice and during off-ice work. I worked pretty hard, but I wasn’t in the shape I needed to be. He was one of the most in-shape guys in the room. He was always where he needed to be right from the start.
That’s not even talking about his goaltending. He’s always been really strong technically in the net, calm, purposed. That’s something you need as a goalie.
Coming into this camp, after the season that you had, do you feel that you have a lot more confidence?
I don’t want to get too far ahead of myself just because of what happened [last year]. It’s not going to get easier – it’s probably going to get harder. Just because we won and I played well doesn’t mean it’s going to come easier – we’ll have to work for what we get. We’ve got to be prepared to put the work in.
So you want to keep the same kind of attitude that got you here?
Yeah, definitely. Nothing’s a given. I’m out here to work hard and make sure I’m ready for the first game.