Of the few rumors that the Chicago Blackhawks have actually been involved in early in this offseason, the majority of them have had the Hawks linked to big name goaltenders.
However true they were or were not, the Blackhawks were linked to Roberto Luongo on more than one occasion, and now find themselves reportedly talking to Martin Brodeur about bringing the future Hall of Fame goaltender aboard.
Lost in all of this is the fact that the Chicago Blackhawks already have a goaltender. His name is Corey Crawford.
Given the checkered past that the organization has had with goaltenders, you could understand why a good chunk of the fanbase is ready to bail on Crawford after enduring a sophomore slump this past season. But should the Hawks really put much thought into bringing in another goaltender, rather than give Crawford one last shot?
There’s no arguing that Corey Crawford had a poor 2011-2012 campaign. His save percentage was just. 903 and he even lost his starting job to Ray Emery for a stretch. But you also have to look at the fact that he was playing behind a defense that was incredibly inconsistent, and Joel Quenneville‘s mismanagement of both of his goaltenders left him without an opportunity to get his confidence back.
The Hawks were expecting much more of the 2010-2011 Crawford that nearly stole the first round series from the Vancouver Canucks, rather than the one they saw this season. But dumping Crawford, which would most likely be the result, in favor of a guy like Luongo or Brodeur would make even less sense.
If the Blackhawks though the backlash was bad towards Crawford for a mediocre season, imagine what happens if Luongo gives up four or five goals in an outing. And can we really expect Martin Broduer, as great as he has been in his career, to play behind the Hawks defense, as inconsistent as it’s proven to be the last two seasons?
Unless the Blackhawks end up taking a look at a young guy like Jonathan Bernier, holding onto Crawford is the route that makes the most sense for them. Rather than seek a replacement for Crawford, especially one that would be an extremely short term solution like Brodeur, the Hawks should be improving the team in front of him.
We’ve seen goaltenders suffer through sophomore slumps and emerge much better in their third year. Look at Jimmy Howard up in Detroit as an example of that. Instead of spending much of anytime looking for a replacement for Crawford, the Hawks’ front office needs to be looking at upgrading the guys in front of him. And I mean more than just Sheldon Brookbank.
In the end, I think that’s the way that the Blackhawks will go. I’d expect Luongo to end up in South Beach, if anywhere, and Brodeur to return to the New Jersey Devils. With the Los Angeles Kings in no rush to trade Bernier, expect to see no. 50 back between the pipes for the Blackhawks next season.
And that’s how it should be.