Corey Crawford is the only goaltender in Blackhawks history to have his named engraved on the Stanley Cup twice, a starter nonetheless.

But it almost never happened.

After spending five years in the American Hockey League from 2006-10 with the Norfolk Admirals — the Blackhawks' minor-league affiliate at the time — and the Rockford IceHogs, Crawford nearly left the National Hockey League to go make a name for himself overseas.

"I stayed pretty motivated most of the time, but obviously it's hard to (be in the minors) for your entire career," Crawford said during Saturday's "My Path to the NHL" panel at the ninth annual Blackhawks Convention. "There were definitely times when I thought I'd might like to move on, maybe go play in Europe or go try and play in Russia if I could.

"There were times I didn't think I was good enough to play in the NHL. But really it was more about just taking it day by day and just still having fun. It was still fun for me playing in the minors and I think that was the most important thing, is going out there every day and being with your teammates and just enjoying it. That was the most important part for me."

Crawford's breakthrough came in 2011, when he seized the full-time role in the crease by going 33-18-6 with a 2.30 goals against average and .917 save percentage to go along with four shutouts.


He hasn't looked back since, and Chicago is glad he didn't.