Blackhawks training camp opened on Friday and all eyes were on Corey Crawford, who skated with goaltending coach Jimmy Waite one hour before the rest of the team did as he continues to recover from his mysterious upper-body injury. But it's not a secret anymore.
In an effort to be more transparent, the Blackhawks will be more open about injuries going forward, like they did when announcing why Connor Murphy and Brent Seabrook will be sidelined earlier in the day. An emotional Crawford revealed that he was dealing with a concussion last season, ending speculation about what's been going on and offering more clarity as to why his timeline to return isn't something you can project.
"Last year was a concussion," Crawford said. "I'm still getting over symptoms. Most of them are gone but I'm not cleared yet, so until that happens I won't be back in."
Crawford last appeared in an NHL game on Dec. 23, 2017, when he allowed three goals on seven shots in 13:22 of action against the New Jersey Devils before being pulled. But that wasn't when he suffered it.
"It was something before that and things got progressively worse," Crawford said. "It just got to a point where it was time to sit out and things never really got better. We thought maybe to try it when I went to Arizona and we were at a point too where we were close in the standings and it just didn't seem like it was worth it when we started to slide, so it was better off thinking about long-term than trying to rush back."
While he may not have practiced with the team on Day 1, the plan is to continue working on some light on-ice drills and amp up the intensity at his own pace.
"We're trying to ease the intensity," Crawford said. "We're not trying to rush things. We've done a great job with that lately and that's why it's hard to put a timeline to really know when I'm going to feel 100 percent. At the same time, the last couple months have been a lot of progress."
It's too early to say whether he'll be ready to go by Opening Day on Oct. 4, but Crawford believes he's almost there. And that's encouraging for many reasons.
"It was tough," Crawford said. "It was tough not playing. But right now I'm feeling good. Mike Gapski, our head trainer, has done a ton to help me out getting all the treatment that I need. I'm trying to get back as quick as possible, but I'm close. I'm really close."