The New Jersey Devils announced on Friday that free-agent signing Corey Crawford is taking “an indefinite leave of absence” from the team due to personal reasons. Crawford had missed the last five days of training camp before the decision was made.
The goaltender signed a two-year, $7.8 million contract with the Devils in October after spending the last 13 years with the Chicago Blackhawks.
— New Jersey Devils (@NJDevils) January 8, 2021
Devils’ head coach Lindy Ruff did not provide any additional reasons for Crawford’s departure on Thursday.
Crawford participated in the Devils’ first two days of camp — December 31 and January 1 — before not returning on January 2.
“We need to give him his space,” Devils forward Travis Zajac said to NHL.com. “Obviously, no one knows himself better than he does, so obviously we want him to be part of this team, but I think going forward, he’s got to make that decision. I think he can take all the time he needs. We want him here.”
“I reached out to him; I think it was Sunday or Monday,” added Kyle Palmieri on Thursday. “You want to give him his space … it’s a personal issue for him and his family, what they’re going through. We’ve gotten to know ‘Crow’ a little bit over the first couple days. I think you’re there to support him as a teammate and as a guy who, obviously I have a ton of respect for, for what he’s done in his career.
Mackenzie Blackwood will get a bulk of the starts in goal and Scott Wedgewood would be the backup if Crawford’s absence stretches into the regular season.
Crawford went 16-20-3 and had a .917 save percentage in 40 games for the Blackhawks last season.
1/9 update: Crawford has decided to retire.
“I have been fortunate to have had a long career playing professional hockey for a living,” Crawford said in a statement. “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. I am proud to have been part of winning two Stanley Cups in Chicago. 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.”
Crawford is 36-years-old.
Screenshot courtesy of NHL
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