By Allan Muir
Looks like this will go down as a pretty good day for Corey Crawford and his family.
The Blackhawks' netminder was already scheduled to spend Labor Day commemorating Chicago's championship season with the Stanley Cup in his home town of Chateauguay, Quebec. Now he gets to celebrate with a new deal in his back pocket as well.
The Blackhawks announced this morning that they have agreed to terms with Crawford on a six-year contract extension. Renaud Lavoie of TVA is reporting the deal is worth an average of $6 million per season, mirroring the recent trend of goalies like Jonathan Quick (10 years, $58 million) and Tuukka Rask (eight years, $58 million) cashing in big on one good season.
Crawford's current deal will pay him $2.5 million in 2013-14, with the new contract kicking in next season and carrying him through the end of the 2019-20 campaign.
Nothing's ever come easy for Crawford, 28, so it's nice to see his hard work finally rewarded. He rebounded from a dreadful performance in the 2012 playoffs to post the best season of his pro career in 2013. He went 19-5-5, with three shutouts, a 1.94 goals-against average and a .926 save percentage on his way to sharing the William M. Jennings Trophy with Ray Emery.
He followed his regular season up with a Conn Smythe-worthy playoff run, posting a league-best 1.84 GAA and a .932 save percentage to help Chicago to the Cup.
That's a heck of a year to be sure, but it's not exactly a lengthy track record. It's interesting then that Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman was willing to double down on Crawford. Bowman had faith enough in the goalie to avoid the urge to replace him after his stumbles in 2012, and that gamble paid off. But now he's all in on Crawford being the man to carry Chicago's championship-caliber core players through their prime years. Whether Bowman is right or wrong, this signing will be remembered as one of the most important of his tenure.