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Chicago Blackhawks will be judged by negotiations with Corey Crawford

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EDMONTON, ALBERTA - AUGUST 07: Corey Crawford #50 of the Chicago Blackhawks leads his team onto the ice prior to Game Four of the Western Conference Qualification Round against the Edmonton Oilers prior to the 2020 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Rogers Place on August 07, 2020 in Edmonton, Alberta. (Photo by Jeff Vinnick/Getty Images)
EDMONTON, ALBERTA - AUGUST 07: Corey Crawford #50 of the Chicago Blackhawks leads his team onto the ice prior to Game Four of the Western Conference Qualification Round against the Edmonton Oilers prior to the 2020 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Rogers Place on August 07, 2020 in Edmonton, Alberta. (Photo by Jeff Vinnick/Getty Images) /
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The off-season rumor mill is operating at full velocity this year, and the Blackhawks are right in the thick of things.

Negotiations have quietly begun behind closed doors for the Chicago Blackhawks and the players that could find themselves testing free agency. Unfortunately, those talks might not be going so smoothly. If reports like NBC’s are accurate, goaltender Corey Crawford and Chicago aren’t seeing eye-to-eye on what a final deal should look like. This was previously reported by Elliotte Friedman in a recent 31 Thoughts column.

"23. Initially, Chicago and Corey Crawford were not seeing eye to eye on the dollar value of an extension. Crawford knew there would be a cut. How much was the issue."

However, if Crawford doesn’t stick around with Chicago, it isn’t just about the money. He’s already said that playing time is a priority, but there’s probably more than even that motivating his decision on how to work out his next deal. Playing time will happen, no matter where he ends up.

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By the time the next season starts, early December if the proposed start date sticks, Crawford will be weeks away from his 36th birthday. He’s been around the league since 2006. He’s won a couple of prizes along the way, but the sun is setting on his career.

While he might be prioritizing playing time over money, he probably also wants another shot at winning the Stanley Cup. If he doesn’t sign with Chicago, maybe it’s about the money or playing time, but it’s more likely a statement on where the team is at.

Do accomplished veterans want to spend their final years playing on a team that may be stuck in gear for a few seasons? Crawford is almost certainly asking himself this very question. The team hasn’t been very successful for several years now and doesn’t appear to be headed towards being a Stanley Cup contender anytime soon, barring any significant changes.

Heck, the rest of the veterans might be thinking along the same lines, but they aren’t due new deals so they’d need to request a trade. If Crawford walks though, it could happen. Especially for someone like Duncan Keith who is seeing his role with the team diminish a little bit more with each passing season.

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People can speculate all they want about Chicago being a middling team right now. If Crawford heads for greener pastures to wind down his days as a player, then it may be a tough, but necessary take on the quality of the team. Hopefully, he sticks around and Chicago can rely on him to push for another run in the postseason.

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