On Thursday, a press conference kicked off at the United Center with representatives from the Chicago Blackhawks and Boston Bruins there to publicize the upcoming Winter Classic at Notre Dame Stadium.
It seemed like a routine PR obligation that wouldn’t produce much of anything — until Blackhawks team president and CEO John McDonough met with the media after the press conference.
John McDonough says he's "confident" that Corey Crawford will be ready for the start of training camp next week. Nothing concrete, though.— Mark Lazerus (@MarkLazerus) September 6, 2018
And as I read and re-read those words, I kept coming back to the same conclusion:
Why should I care?
Why should I care what McDonough thinks about Corey Crawford’s health for the start of training camp? Why does his opinion matter? What sort of information is he going to provide that’s beneficial?
This is the epitome of what is so infuriating about the Blackhawks’ handling of this whole situation. McDonough has no problem telling us that he’s confident Crawford will be back. General manager Stan Bowman offered similar sentiments at the NHL draft in June and coach Joel Quenneville backed up those words the next day.
But did any of those people explain what was wrong with Crawford when he mysteriously disappeared from the lineup around Christmas last year? No. Did they shed some light on when he might return to action? No. Did they ever get us any indication of what was going on with Chicago’s most important player? No.
Oh, but they’ll gladly tell us that they all believe Crawford is going to be back by next week. That’s great. Good for you, John. I’m thrilled you are “confident” Crawford is going to be ready to start training camp next week. Know who doesn’t share that confidence? The overwhelming majority of the Blackhawks fan base. Know who else doesn’t share that confidence? Crawford himself, as of six weeks ago.
How hard would it have been for McDonough to give his usual answer-that-isn’t like: “Crawford is a crucial part of our team and we look forward to getting him back onto the ice when he’s ready.” A simple sentence like that and this whole post-press conference media scrum barely registers on the radar.
So what’s the point of all of this?
Why is McDonough making a rather bold statement, given the way everything else involving this situation has gone in the last eight months? What is to be gained from his words? For a guy who’s always been cognizant of how things “look,” McDonough’s words here seem misguided at best.
It’s been the same story for about nine months now: someone from the organization speaks, Crawford’s name comes up, no questions are definitively answered and mystery continues to dominate the narrative regarding what exactly is going on with No. 50.
Training camp opens next Friday. Maybe we’ll finally have an answer then.