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Corey Crawford's return to Blackhawks 'probably not that far away'

Paul Skrbina, Chicago Tribune on

Published in Hockey

The masked man was outfitted in all black and flanked by a few teammates Monday morning at MB Ice Arena.

For the third straight day, Corey Crawford was on the ice in full Blackhawks armor, this time taking shots -- and instruction -- from goalie coach Jimmy Waite as he took another step toward returning from injured reserve.

Coach Joel Quenneville called Crawford's workout before practice "a good sign." And it's a sign Crawford, 33, could begin practicing with the team soon. He has been on IR with what the Hawks called an upper-body injury -- reported to be either vertigo-like or concussion-related symptoms -- since Dec. 27.

"It's probably not that far away," Quenneville said.

Once that happens, Quenneville said, Crawford's first game action since Dec. 23 could soon follow.

"I don't think he'll be too far away, once he's practicing with us, that he'd be able to play," said Quenneville, who has been steadfast that Crawford would return this season.

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Five television cameras and several sets of watchful eyes focused on Crawford, who soon was joined in his workout by fellow goalies Anton Forsberg and Jeff Glass and teammates Jordan Oesterle, Jan Rutta, David Kampf and Erik Gustafsson.

Crawford hasn't played since he was pulled during the first period of a loss against the Devils after allowing three goals on seven shots. He is 16-9-2 with a .929 save percentage and 2.27 goals-against average, the latter two among league leaders at the time of his injury.

He didn't look to be at full speed while moving side to side as Waite fired pucks in his direction -- all above the waist -- during a drill.

While the Hawks are looking forward to Crawford getting back, Patrick Kane said the team "can't be sitting around waiting for him."

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