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Blackhawks Tue Sep 03 2013

It's Good To Be Corey Crawford

Thumbnail image for GB blackhawks icon.png It's been quite a year for the Blackhawks' Corey Crawford. The Stanley Cup-winning goalie rolled through the playoffs with a 16-7 record and 1.84 GAA, recently got engaged, had his turn with the Cup in his hometown of Montreal, will get a chance to lead his country as the backstop in the Winter Olympics in Sochi, and just inked a deal to become one of the best-paid goalies in the league: a 6-year, $36 million deal. It's enough crow to go around for all his doubters to eat.

The offer kicks in after the upcoming 2013-'14 season, in which Crawford will finish out his current deal worth $2,666,667. The 55-percent pay increase has fans wondering what Patrick Kane and captain Jonathan Toews will ask for, a year after Crawford's deal kicks in, when the dynamic duo become unrestricted free agents.

Come the 2014-'15 season, when Crawford's contract kicks in, he will be the seventh-highest paid goaltender in the league, tied with Mike Smith from Phoenix and Jimmy Howard of Detroit. Tuukka "17 seconds" Raask of Boston will be the highest-paid tender at an astounding $7.5 million.

The 28-year-old Crawford still is considered a kid in the league, in terms of age, as well as time served between the pipes. Crawford first started to see consistent action as goalie during the 2010-'11 season, where he split time with Marty Turco. The following year, Turco was sent packing, and Crawford secured the number one spot for coach Quenneville.

During the off season, backup goalie Ray Emery signed with the Flyers for a 1-year, $1.65 million deal. A few days later, the Hawks brought back the "Bulin Wall," Nikolai Khabibulin (1-year, $2 million), in order to backup Crawford. All the while, Finnish goalie Antti Raanta signed an entry-level deal of $1.4 million a day after Crawford held the Los Angeles Kings to two goals for a Game 2 victory in the Western Conference Finals.

It's enough drama to rival the Real Housewives of [INSERT CITY HERE]. There's no doubt Crawford deserves the raise; he worked his tail off throughout the playoffs, sans a few games. Many were nervous of his glove-side, which was exposed to the national public during Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final -- a game which the Blackhawks eventually won, 6-5.

The fact remains, however, that Crawford is still maturing. Hard to say that, especially since it feels like he's owned the starting job for a lot longer than a few seasons. It's safe to assume Crawford has, and will, continue to work on his glove-side. The baby-faced stopper will have his lapses throughout the season, as all goalies do.

But the combination of a solid defense in front of him, and a run of playoff experience that brought a second championship to this town in four seasons, the money very well could be worth the price of yet another parade.

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