NHL

Listen to your captain: Jonathan Toews reminds everyone to stay home

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USA Today

Listen to your captain: Jonathan Toews reminds everyone to stay home

Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews is showing off his leadership skills during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Today, Toews appeared on the Blackhawks’ Instagram to remind fans of the importance of social distancing as part of the "We Are Not Playing" movement.

Toews has been doing his part to flatten the curve of the COVID-19 pandemic by staying home, as well as donating $100,000 to the Chicago Community COVID-19 Response Fund through the Jonathan Toews Foundation. 

Patrick Kane has decided to join Toews to encourage fans to practice social distancing. Kane posted a video to Twitter for Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzger’s All In Illinois campaign, thanking healthcare workers and reminding Illinois residents to do their part and stay inside. 

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Blackhawks fill out goaltending depth, but what about Corey Crawford?

Blackhawks fill out goaltending depth, but what about Corey Crawford?

The Blackhawks took care of some housekeeping items last week when they agreed to terms with a pair of 2017 draft picks on entry-level deals and re-signed two of their pending restricted free agents, which included goaltender Kevin Lankinen. 

On Monday, the Rockford IceHogs announced they inked goaltender Tom Aubrun to a two-year AHL contract. He's coming off of back-to-back seasons in which he was named the NEHC Player and Goaltender of the Year for NCAA Division III. At Norwich University, Auburn went 50-8-5 with a 1.27 goals against average, a .946 save percentage and 20 shutouts in 65 career appearances.

The Blackhawks now have three goaltenders under NHL contract for the 2020-21 season (Collin Delia, Lankinen and Matt Tomkins) and one on an AHL deal (Aubrun). The goaltending situation for next season is quickly taking shape at all levels, with Delia or Lankinen expected to be in big leagues, the other manning the crease in Rockford with Tomkins, and Aubrun possibly getting his feet wet with the Indy Fuel in the ECHL.

RELATED: Blackhawks announce 4 signings

Which leaves us with the biggest question of them all: Corey Crawford, who's set to become an unrestricted free agent. 

It's no secret the 35-year-old, two-time Stanley Cup champion wants to continue playing hockey, prefers to finish his career in Chicago and believes he can still be an everyday starter.

Crawford certainly strengthened his case when he started 10 straight down the stretch and went 6-4-0 with a 2.41 goals against average, .930 save percentage and 6.17 goals saved above average before the NHL put its season on pause.

Because of the COVID-19 crisis, it's difficult to project what a fair deal between Crawford and the Blackhawks would be due to the uncertainty of what next season's salary cap could look like. However, it might mean both sides could be willing to come to an agreement on a shorter-term, team-friendly contract given that every other team in the league will be dealing with financial challenges as well.

The future of the 2019-20 season and whether the Stanley Cup will be awarded remains unclear, so there's not necessarily an urgency to figure it out right now. But the Blackhawks don't have a proven NHL starter among the four goalies currently under contract, which means filling the most important position appears to be the final order of business on the goaltending agenda after rounding out the rest of the group.

Attention Dish and Sling customers! You have lost your Blackhawks games on NBC Sports Chicago. To switch providers, visit mysportschicago.com.

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Blackhawks easily on your device.

What I miss about covering the Blackhawks

What I miss about covering the Blackhawks

Nothing against Blippi. Due credit for building a loyal YouTube empire. Seems like a guy you'd want to get an apple juice with. 

Elena of Avalor and Mira, Royal Detective are ambitious, young, promising Disney employees. But like a lot of you, I'm ready to work in the field again.

The truth is, after a lot of long days and late nights as a sports writer, this extra time with my wife and two kids has been very beneficial and was needed.

With that said, they also need school, friends, their grandparents and to see their parents go to work. Plus, I really need hockey.

The Blackhawks' last game was on March 11, a Wednesday. They enjoyed a crowd-pleasing, decisive 6-2 victory over the visiting San Jose Sharks. 

Earlier that day, famed NBC Sports play-by-play announcer Mike 'Doc' Emrick bought a table full of Hawks writers a meal at The Palace Grill, located a few blocks east of the United Center, for his annual Cancer Survivors' lunch in celebration of Emrick being cancer free another year.

That was the last time I covered a hockey game. 27 days ago. The NHL paused amid the COVID-19 pandemic on March 12. 

Like everyone, I've spent weeks watching this pandemic play out, tragically impacting some more than others, and wondering what the future holds. I'm eagerly waiting for life to resemble the normalcy of the not too distant past so we can go back to enjoying the finer things, like live hockey.

There's so much I miss about covering the sport. I welcome the time when I get to experience my gameday routine again and the limitless possibilities of what could unfold over the course of a day when there's an NHL contest at the United Center.

I miss having a cup of coffee while listening to SiriusXM's "Jim and Sam” on my drive from the suburbs to the United Center. You won't find a funnier, more entertaining show.

I miss the chill of the 100-level concourse greeting me as I walk in to cover the morning skate.

I miss the loose, casual vibe after morning skates that often allows for meaningful, one-on-one conversations with players if you're able to procure such a chat. I wouldn't mind one of those right about now. 

I miss writing a pregame story before heading to The Palace with a few writers and being forced to make the difficult decision of choosing between lunch or breakfast at 1 p.m. I could go for one of our conversations about what's transpiring with the team at the restaurant, usually followed by Palace owner George Lemperis sitting down to entertain us with a Rolodex of jokes, and me laughing the hardest at the ones that make everyone else blush and squirm because I ain't right.

RELATED — Inside The Palace Grill, the Blackhawks' official restaurant

I miss my second cup of coffee at The Palace, and my third and often fourth at the United Center.

I miss getting my bag from the media room and crossing paths with Hall of Famers like Chris Chelios and Tony Esposito, who work with the Blackhawks now, on my way up to the press box. After sitting for a bit, I usually draw the player with one of the longest cold streaks in our goal pool (whoever picks the Hawk that scores first wins). I'd definitely take that kind of action now.

I miss game time inching closer when I return to my seat in the box after grabbing some pretzels and a bottle of water as fans take their seats. 

I miss the first glimpse of the Hawks' radiant red sweaters in pregame warmups and seeing the line combinations. They provide insight as to who is being rewarded, who's in the doghouse and how the game might unfold. 

I miss hearing what we've all known for years to be the best National Anthem in sports sung by Jim Cornelison. 

I miss puck drop. I can't imagine the thrill of seeing live NHL game play right now. Big league speed and skill, and the jubilation of a goal would be a welcomed replacement for "Ozark" and "Tiger King," the new agents that have been raising my dopamine levels.

I miss seeing legendary sports writers like Bob Verdi and legendary broadcasters like Eddie Olczyk, and thinking how ridiculous it is that they know a guy's name who used to be a kid in the seats. 

I miss what is reportedly one of, if not the best second-intermission spreads for media in the NHL. After overindulging in the fine buffet, I kick my writing into second gear before sluggishly heading down to the media room to put the finishing touches on my game “Takeaways” near the midway mark of the third period. You can catch the remainder of the game on TVs in the room.

I miss the finality of a game's conclusion. Something was gained and lost for not just both teams, but for every player who stepped on the ice. 

I miss thinking of story angles and corresponding questions as I wait for the locker room to open for player availability. 

I miss jostling for position in postgame scrums, which at times could best be described as a mosh pit with occasional professional courtesies. 

I miss the look on a player's face when he's asked the same question for a second, third and sometimes fourth time by a media member arriving late to a scum. The redundancy seems maddening for them, but we all need our quotes and sometimes have to go to multiple scrums. The players always accommodate the repeat questions in one way or another.

I miss Jeremy Colliton's insightful assessment of the game and his players. He doesn't throw people under the bus, but he's honest.

I miss writing my second postgame story and seeing the impact that quotes from Colliton and the players can have on it, and where to plug them in.

I miss finishing "Jim and Sam" on the way home in the car while drinking a water from the United Center (opened with press meal, not stolen). 

I miss the peacefulness and guilt of walking into a dark and quiet house, knowing the screaming, tantrum-driven circus my wife endured getting the kids to bed a few hours ago.

I miss the comfort of knowing I'll get to see my family a lot more when Blackhawks are off or have practice the next day.

Which brings me back to the present. I'm seeing them a lot during all of this, and we're safe. For now, that's what's important. 

Attention Dish and Sling customers! You have lost your Blackhawks games on NBC Sports Chicago. To switch providers, visit mysportschicago.com.

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Blackhawks easily on your device.