Crawford announces retirement from hockey, Wedgewood now Devils backup goalie

After taking a few personal days to be with his family, goalie Corey Crawford decided to announce his retirement from hockey. It wasn’t a surprising decision. The 36-year old proud veteran two-time Stanley Cup winner realized that he had nothing left to prove.

A very good netminder who spent his whole 10-year career with the Blackhawks, Crawford realized that there was nothing left to give. Rather than continue his hockey career with the Devils where he signed a two-year contract worth an average of $3.9 million, he wanted to spend more time with his family. Considering his injury history which included multiple concussions, it isn’t shocking.

Unfortunately for the Devils, they are still on the hook for the $3.9 million salary cap hit due to Crawford’s age. He’s over 35. It doesn’t seem fair. It should be something they should change in the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA). This per CapFriendly.

I don’t see why a team should be held responsible if a player they signed changes their mind. It isn’t like Crawford was already under contract having played x amount of seasons. This is a different situation. He never played a game for the Devils. That’s why the 35 and over clause in the CBA should be adjusted under such special cases.

Correction: Following that information, CapFriendly posted a retraction. The Devils aren’t on the hook for the Crawford contract. His $3.9 million cap hit comes off. I knew it didn’t make sense. So, it frees up more cap room. I was wondering why PuckPedia had more cap space with Crawford not listed.

With Crawford doing what’s best for him longterm, I give him credit. He didn’t try to stick around too long. If you’re not fully committed, then the best decision to make is to retire. That way the team can move on.

The Devils currently have Mackenzie Blackwood as their starting netminder. He’s signed for three years at an AAV of $2.8 million through 2023. Scott Wedgewood is now the backup. He’ll make $700,000. He’s had a good training camp. For him, it’s another opportunity to play in net for the Devils. We’ll see how it goes.

For his NHL career spent with the Devils and Coyotes, Wedgewood is 7-10-5 with a 3.05 GAA and .903 save percentage over 24 games. His first four came in New Jersey back in ’15-16 when he went 2-1-1 with a 1.25 GAA, .957 save percentage and a shutout. He spent most of his time with Binghamton in the AHL.

In other recent Devils news, they brought back defenseman Sami Vatanen. The veteran right D agreed to a one-year deal worth $2 million. He’s an experienced player who can play on the bottom pair and penalty kill. It’s a smart low risk move that is an upgrade over extra Connor Carrick. If they fall out of playoff contention, the Devils can always trade him to a contender.

Crawford finishes his 10-year NHL career with 260 victories, a 2.45 GAA, .918 save percentage and 26 shutouts. He played all 488 games with the Blackhawks where he won two Cups in ’12-13 and ’14-15. He’ll always be a champion in Chicago hearts.

About Derek Felix

Derek Felix is sports blogger whose previous experience included separate stints at ESPN as a stat researcher for NHL and WNBA telecasts. The Staten Island native also interned for or hockey historian Stan Fischler and worked behind the scenes for MSG as a production assistant on New Jersey Devil telecasts. An avid New York sports fan who enjoys covering events, writing, concerts, movies and the outdoors, Derek has covered consecutive Staten Island Yankees NY Penn League championships in '05 and '06. He also scored Berkeley Carroll high school basketball games from '06-14 and provided an outlet for the Park Slope school's student athletes. Hitting Back gives them the publicity they deserve. In his free time, he also attends Ranger games and is a loyal St. John's alum with a sports management degree. The Battle Of Hudson administrator and chief editor can be followed below on Twitter and Facebook.
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