Corey Crawford joins Blackhawks for practice

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Chicago Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford listens to questions after NHL hockey training camp at the MB Ice Arena, Friday, Sept. 14, 2018, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

by Scott King

Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford (concussion symptoms) had been progressing well with on-ice workouts the last couple of weeks prior to team practices. Monday morning he skated out with teammates to participate in practice for the first time since February.

He started by facing Hawks shots a few minutes before practice officially started.

Once practice began, the pace picked up and he saw a lot of shots, some with traffic, but all near his pads. The goaltender participated in the full practice with only taking a few breaks.

“That was good,” Crawford said. “Able to get a few shots and I felt pretty good for the first time. I don’t know. We’ll just go from there but it was a good start.”

The breaks helped ease Crawford back into the team practice.

“We were switching off, too,” Crawford said. “So I was getting pretty good breaks in between going in the net. But when I was in there, it was good. I’m excited to be able to get more shots and get a full practice.

“I’m still not 100 parent clear but it’s almost there. We’re pretty close.”

Blackhawks head coach Joel Quenneville said Crawford was cleared to play following Monday’s practice. Crawford’s diagnosis could be a self-imposed limitation.

Quenneville also said the goalie will be joining the team on the road to start the season in Ottawa and St. Louis, but that is for practicing purposes.

Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews saw a lot of positives in Crawford’s return Monday.

“I said that all along, part of his getting better is just being around the boys again,” Toews said. “So it’s nice to have him out there. I think he’s eager and he’s pretty determined to get back in. It’s great to see him back.”

Toews saw the duration of Crawford’s participation as a good sign.

“It’s a good run, so we’ll take it,” Toews said. “That’s a great step forward for him. Considering what he’s been through it’s a long process, so it’s nice to see him feeling better and better every day.”

The two-time Stanley Cup champ last saw game competition on December 23 in New Jersey.

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