The biggest storyline of Blackhawks training camp 2.0 was the fact Corey Crawford had been out since Day 1 because he was ruled "unfit" to participate. Saturday was his first day on the ice in Phase 3 and now we know the reason for his absence.
Crawford confirmed after practice that he tested positive for COVID-19 and was forced to quarantine in Chicago for the past few weeks. He mainly felt flu-like symptoms at the beginning and even self-isolated beyond the 14-day period to be extra cautious.
"I'd say it was a lot tougher at the start," Crawford said. "The first few days that I started feeling symptoms, that was the hardest. The last couple weeks — maybe a little bit more — was a little bit easier, but I still couldn't do much in case there was something wrong with my lungs or my heart, so we had to get that checked out first before I really started pushing in the gym more or come on the ice. But all of that has been done.
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"The doctors did a good job. We were safe enough about it, we didn't put anyone else at risk and I'm just excited to be back on the ice and seeing pucks again."
The most difficult part for Crawford was wondering when it would pass. He had seen reports that symptoms, for some people, could last for months.
"I was just hoping to recover as quickly as possible," he said. "I think it was just a shock. It's kind of a little bit of the unknown, too, because everyone feels it a little bit differently."
Crawford didn't take any chances during the first few days when the symptoms were at its worst. He slept in the guest room of his house and wore a mask around the house to protect their two-year-old son and newborn baby.
“I was trying to stay as safe as possible with my family," Crawford said.
After going 12 straight days without practicing, Crawford finally got the clearance to participate in the final day of camp in Chicago and felt great. But he knows it's going to take time to get to a level he needs to be for the Stanley Cup Playoffs and Game 1 against the Edmonton Oilers, which is exactly one week from Saturday.
"I'm just excited to get back to playing hockey," said Crawford, who was included on the Blackhawks' 31-man postseason roster. "Going to try and get into it as quick as possible and try and get that game shape back."