A statement from Crawford was released by the Devils, the team that signed Crawford to a two-year deal worth $7.8 million:
“I have been fortunate to have had a long career playing professional hockey for a living. 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.”
[UPDATE] The Blackhawks released their own statement later in the day:
Retiring before the start of the season means that the Blackhawks will remain the only team that Crawford played for in an NHL game.
He played in 488 of them during the regular season, beginning in the 2005-06 season after joining the Blackhawks as a second-round pick (52nd overall) in the 2003 NHL Draft. Crawford’s career record stands at 260-162-53, with a .918 save percentage and 2.45 goals-against average. Crawford ranks among the franchise greats in several categories: third in wins (260), third in saves (12,778), second in SA% (.918) and third in GAA (2.45).
But there is no goaltender in Blackhawks history that can match Crawford’s pair of Stanley Cup rings.
Crawford’s postseason numbers are roughly equal to his regular season numbers, indicative of Crawford’s career as a steady, consistent performer, even when the stakes were at their highest. In 96 playoff games, Crawford boasts a 52-42 record, .918 SA% and 2.38 GAA. According to Hockey Reference, his career goals saved above average mark is 16.0.
There are only so many more bouquets that can be tossed in Crawford’s direction for those who were keenly aware of his importance to the Blackhawks in the 2010s. This was one such attempt after Crawford damn wear won another playoff game by himself: Chicago’s 3-1 win in Game 4 of its first-round series with the Golden Knights.
Every conversation involving Crawford’s time in Chicago should be loaded with superlatives. He was one of the Blackhawks best players for nearly a decade. He remained one of the most consistent performers in the back half of the prior decade as the rest of the team’s foundation began to crumble. His contributions to this franchise and its incredible run during the 2010s remain criminally under-appreciated.
That’s the story of Crawford’s career, though. He was unfairly maligned for the Blackhawks playoff exit in 2012 and then backstopped a pair of Stanley Cup runs in 2013 and 2015 with a fluky bounce being the only thing that kept Crawford and the Blackhawks from a similar end in 2014. That he never won a Conn Smythe trophy despite his immeasurable contributions to those champion runs will forever be one of hockey’s most unfair results.
But Crawford’s place in Blackhawks history is undeniable. His sparking résumé places him in the debate for best goaltender in franchise history with the likes of Ed Belfour, Glenn Hall and Tony Esposito — all Hall of Fame inductees.
He was everything the Blackhawks needed him to be for longer than most players could have been.
Fuckin’ right, Crow.