The mysterious absence of Corey Crawford stretches more than 3 weeks

The star goalie hasn’t played since Dec. 23, and we still have no updates on his status.

The last time Corey Crawford played for the Blackhawks was two days before Christmas. He was pulled early in a loss to the Devils after giving up three goals on seven shots. It seemed harmless enough, an off game for the star goalie right before a holiday break.

But four days later, the Blackhawks placed Crawford on injured reserve for the second time this season. The team said the absence would be “indefinite” but declined to offer any other details, something that’s not unusual in the NHL. We’re often left in the dark when it comes to the nitty gritty of why players are sitting out.

Except this time, there’s literally nothing to go off of. He didn’t leave a game after a big hit. There’s no play that’s been passed around social media in retrospect pointing out a moment where he might’ve tweaked something. He was just benched Dec. 23, then suddenly four days later, he was on IR with an undisclosed upper-body injury.

And while that in itself wasn’t particularly unusual given the way teams are cagey about injury information, it’s now mid-January. Not only have we not seen Crawford back with the team since the Devils game, but Sunday morning Joel Quenneville again repeated that there were no updates to his status or timetable to return.

He’s still out indefinitely. It’s been more than three weeks and fans still have absolutely zero inkling as to what’s wrong with Crawford or when he’s likely to return. It is, even in the context of the way the Blackhawks typically handle injuries, something out of the ordinary. There’s going to a point where refusing to offer updates on the status of a key player will likely demand more than a shrug because that’s the way hockey teams operate.

Now, maybe Crawford is dealing with something personal that nobody involved wants made public. It’s possible the team’s secrecy in handling this situation is out of a desire to give Crawford the best opportunity to handle whatever is going on in his life.

But nobody knows, and that lack of transparency from the team will start to open the door for speculation and concern among the fans. This situation is slowly evolving from a standard bit of circling the wagons by a hockey franchise into something a bit more odd. Reporters are going to have to keep asking these questions until they get longer answers.

All indications are that Crawford is expected to return to the Blackhawks this season, which is great news. He’s one of the team’s most important players, as solid as Anton Forsberg and Jeff Glass have been in his place. The team’s chances of winning a Stanley Cup would sink near zero if they don’t have Crawford between the pipes.

So those following the team understandably want to know what’s going on. We didn’t get any information before Christmas, and now in mid-January, we’re in the same position. As time goes on and those circumstances don’t change, it’s going to be hard not to wonder when we’ll find out more.