Blackhawks loan Jokiharju to Finland for junior championship
Suddenly, their goaltending situation is completely up in the air.
There was no update on Crawford’s status a day after he was placed on injured reserve. The two-time All-Star got hurt in the first period of Sunday’s 7-3 loss to San Jose when the back of his head struck the right post during a scary goalmouth pileup.
“He just needs time to get better,” Blackhawks coach Jeremy Colliton said before Tuesday’s 2-1 victory over Nashville. “Obviously you feel for him and want him, first of all as a person, just get back to 100 percent as quick as he can. Until then we’ll keep battling.”
Crawford, who helped the Blackhawks win the Stanley Cup in 2013 and 2015, also missed most of last year and the start of this season because of a concussion. The pair of head injuries in a relatively short time period raises questions about whether he might play again.
“It looks rough, how he hit his head on the post,” defenseman Connor Murphy said, “especially a guy like that who battled so hard to come back and was such a big part of our team. To me, he was our best player. … Hopefully he’s back soon.”
“Our thoughts are obviously with Crow, and our hopes and prayers that he comes back healthy sooner than later,” Ward said. “I think for him, he’s got a family and you’re obviously very concerned.”
The 24-year-old Delia began last season in the ECHL before being promoted to Rockford and then making his NHL debut in March. He went 1-1 in two starts with Chicago.
“Just the adversity that I went through last season, starting in the ECHL and kind of working my way up, it’s a huge character-building moment for me,” Delia said. “I had to see where my game was at, see if this was something that I could take to the next level. I think I kind of proved to myself and teammates, coaches, staff that I had the capabilities.”
Crawford’s concussion is another tough blow for last-place Chicago, which missed the playoffs last season for the first time in a decade. Longtime coach Joel Quenneville was fired on Nov. 6, but the Blackhawks went 4-13-3 in their first 20 games under Colliton.
Chicago also will be without one of its top defensemen for a while after it decided to loan Henri Jokiharju to Finland for the upcoming world junior championship. The 19-year-old Jokiharju has no goals and 11 assists in 32 games in his first NHL season. The international competition runs from Dec. 26 to Jan. 5 in Vancouver, British Columbia.
“It’s a great opportunity, we think, for him, but also for our team,” Colliton said. “We’re thinking about what kind of player he’s going to be months down the road and in years down the road. It’s a chance for him to go there and be one of, if not the top player, one of the top players and help lead them to success.”
While Crawford and Jokiharju are away from the team, forward Artem Anisimov and defenseman Gustav Forsling returned against Nashville after being activated from injured reserve. Anisimov had been sidelined by a concussion, and Forsling was out with a shoulder injury.