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Blackhawks haven’t ruled out Corey Crawford despite being ‘unfit to play’

The goaltender could still be an option for Chicago, which will face the Oilers in a Stanley Cup Qualifier series.

Chicago Blackhawks v Florida Panthers Photo by Joel Auerbach/Getty Images

Corey Crawford could return for the Blackhawks even though they have labeled him “unfit to play or to participate” through the first four days of training camp.

“I mean, for now there’s no change, but [we] certainly haven’t ruled him out going forward,” coach Jeremy Colliton said Friday.

Colliton was asked about Crawford being available in the future after a report surfaced earlier in the day by NBC Sports Chicago saying there’s a “chance” the goaltender could return next week. The NHL is prohibiting teams from releasing medical information in Phases 3 (training camps) and 4 (resumption of play).

Crawford has not participated in the first four days of camp and was the lone NHL regular not to take part in the Blackhawks’ voluntary workouts, which started June 8 at Fifth Third Arena in Chicago. The two-time Stanley Cup champion was 16-20-3 with a 2.77 goals-against average, and among goalies to play at least 40 games this season, he was tied for fifth in the NHL with a .917 save percentage this season.

The Blackhawks have eight more practice days before they travel to Edmonton on July 26 ahead of their exhibition game against the Blues on July 29 and their qualifier series against the Oilers, which starts Aug. 1. The winner will advance to the Stanley Cup Playoffs, while the loser and the other seven teams eliminated from the qualifiers will have an equal chance (12.5 percent) at the No. 1 pick in the 2020 NHL Draft in the Second Phase of the NHL Draft Lottery on Aug. 10. The 2020 NHL Draft is set for Oct. 9-10.

Chicago has four goalies in camp with Malcolm Subban, Collin Delia, Kevin Lankinen and Matt Tomkins. Colliton has rotated Subban, Delia and Lankinen during practice with the first group.

Blackhawks’ goalie rotation

Day 1: Subban/Delia

Day 2: Subban/Lankinen

Day 3: Delia/Lankinen

Day 4: Subban/Delia

Subban has the most NHL experience among the trio; he’s 30-23-7 with a 2.97 GAA and .899 save percentage in 66 games (60 starts) with the Bruins, Golden Knights and Blackhawks. He was 9-7-3 with a 3.17 GAA and .890 save percentage this season with Vegas before he was acquired in exchange for Robin Lehner on Feb. 24. Subban did not face a shot in 70 seconds of relief for Chicago on March 3.

Delia is 7-5-3 with a 3.65 GAA and .906 save percentage in 18 NHL games (16 starts), all with the Blackhawks, but did not play in the NHL this season. Lankinen and Tomkins have both never played in the NHL, and all three goalies haven’t played in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

“It could obviously end up being the opportunity of a lifetime,” Subban said Wednesday. “For me, it’s just taking it day by day and continuing to work hard and make sure I’m ready if I get an opportunity.”

On Friday, Patrick Kane said he’s confident in either Subban or Delia starting in net.

“I know Delia came up and played with us [during 2018-19 season] and he was lights out,” Kane said. “He’s so athletic, so good side to side. His quickness is probably something that’s really impressive. Same thing with Subban. Just shooting on him in [the voluntary workouts] there’s a lot, you realize how athletic he is, how quick he is. If you make a couple of moves on [a goalie], deke him, you usually have ability to lift the puck up and put it in the net if it’s on a breakaway or something. He’s a guy who gets over really fast and makes it tough for you to deke him. So you can see where his talent level is and why he was drafted so high, why he’s a guy who could step in and do a really good job for us. I think they both seem very confident as goaltenders, which is obviously very important.

“Obviously, we’d love to have Crow here, would love to have him back. He’s been an amazing goaltender for the longest time here. But if he’s not able to go, I think we have confidence that one of those guys can step up.”