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Monday November 29th, 2021 3:17PM

Devils goalie Corey Crawford retires on eve of NHL season

By The Associated Press
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NEWARK, N.J. (AP) — Corey Crawford, who helped the Chicago Blackhawks win two Stanley Cups, retired Saturday less than three months after signing with the New Jersey Devils and less than a week before the start of the NHL season.

The 36-year-old goalie made the announcement after a week of speculation about his future. He did not practice this week. Devils coach Lindy Ruff said the decision was for personal reasons.

“I have been fortunate to have had a long career playing professional hockey for a living,” Crawford said in a statement. “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.”

Crawford said playing in the NHL was a childhood dream and he was proud to have been a part of winning two Stanley Cups.

Blackhawks forward Patrick Kane called Crawford an exceptional player who always seemed in a good mood.

“Still feel that he’s playing at a really high level, going back to last year in the playoffs," Kane said. ”I guess just wish him all the best. Obviously, we’ll have conversations and talk to him, but sometimes there are bigger things than hockey.”

Chicago defenseman Duncan Keith could not say about good things about the man known as “Crow.”

“Everybody knows what he was able to do for us in net, especially during those playoff runs and the last several years here being the backbone of our team,” Keith said. “But he was always a great teammate and just one of those guys you never had to worry about. He was always ready to play in those big games.”

Crawford played in 10 NHL seasons and 488 regular-season games. He signed a two-year, a $7.8 million contract as a free agent with the Devils in October.

New Jersey opens its season at home Thursday against Boston. MacKenzie Blackwood returns as the Devils' top goaltender.

Crawford was a second-round draft pick of the Blackhawks in 2003. He won 260 regular-season games and recorded a franchise-high 52 playoff wins, winning the Cup in 2012-13 and 2014-15.

Crawford made his NHL debut in 2006. He became Chicago's starting goalie in 2010-11 when he also finished fourth in Calder Trophy voting, winning 33 games and posting four shutouts with a .917 save percentage. He earned his first William M. Jennings Trophy in 2012-13, together with teammate Ray Emery, for Chicago allowing the fewest goals thanks in part to his 1.94 goals-against average.

Crawford led Chicago to a tie with Montreal (Carey Price) for the fewest goals allowed in 2014-15, earning his second William M. Jennings Trophy. In the 2014-15 playoffs, Crawford helped lead the Blackhawks to another Stanley Cup victory thanks to his 13 wins and two shutouts. He set career-best marks in 2015-16 in wins (35) and shutouts (7) while finishing fifth in Vezina Trophy voting.

___

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