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Blackhawks’ Corey Crawford needs ’tender loving care

Corey Crawford is coming off an erratic seaswhich his confidence was questioned. | Tom Cruze~Sun-Times

Corey Crawford is coming off an erratic season in which his confidence was questioned. | Tom Cruze~Sun-Times

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Updated: August 13, 2012 2:06PM

When players arrive next week for the Blackhawks’ annual convention, coach Joel Quenneville will be sure to seek out and have a good conversation with one player in particular — goalie Corey Crawford.

The main topic of discussion? The Hawks’ short-lived pursuit of future Hall of Fame goalie Martin Brodeur when he was briefly on the free-agent market before re-signing with the New Jersey Devils.

“I talked to [goalie coach Stephane Waite] about it, and we’ll get a chance to talk to Corey as well,” Quenneville said Wednesday during prospect camp. “Everybody knows the importance of goaltending.”

Which means Quenneville knows how important it is to make sure Crawford isn’t overly discouraged by the Hawks’ attempt to lure Brodeur.

Crawford is coming off an erratic season in which his confidence was questioned seemingly daily and he admitted that he dwelled too much on certain goals he allowed.

Similar to general manager Stan Bowman’s earlier statements, Quenneville said, “When you’ve got a guy like Marty Brodeur out there, you at least have to visit that situation.” Quenneville realizes he needs better goaltending than the .903 save percentage and 2.72 goals-against average Crawford had last season.

“There’s a lot of focus and different types of pressure, be it the playoffs, the expectations and the competition,” Quenneville said. “Corey is well aware that you’re performance is going to dictate how much you play and how you progress.”

That being said, Quenneville voiced his belief again in Crawford and backup Ray Emery. With no decent options remaining in free agency and a trade for Rober-
to Luongo still a long shot right now, Crawford and Emery are the Hawks’ goalie tandem.

“We anticipate Corey getting right back on track [in his third full NHL season],” Quenneville said, making reference to the history of other goalies having sophomore slumps. “We’re expecting Corey to bounce back and recapture that consistency in his game and be a top goalie. We believe he can do that.”

A better team in front of Crawford still will go a long way.

Bowman struck out on getting wing Zach Parise and defenseman Ryan Suter, but the pursuit of gritty veteran Shane Doan should pick up with the Phoenix Coyotes’ situation still uncertain.

The Hawks have interest in Doan, and captain Jonathan Toews is close to him. Doan and his agent reportedly will start examining
offers from other teams July 16,
after more is known about the Coyotes’ future in Glendale, Ariz.

“You see what’s out there and where he’s at and the number of teams that I’m sure would be interested,” Quenneville said of Doan. “It’s tough to comment on that right now. But he’s got a lot of
respect around the league. He’s been in one organization his whole life for a lot of good reasons.”

But like he did for Crawford, Quenneville expressed faith in the core of his team.

“We’ll still look at things, [and] if we can better ourselves in certain ways, we’ll always look at those
avenues,” Quenneville said. “But I’ve got a lot of confidence and trust in our team with what we have.

“Our core group, I think we
exited our season with an appetite where we were very disappointed with the way it ended and with something to prove.”

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