Trevor Crawford walked off the TD Garden ice and into a dark hallway. He has no idea where he’s going.
The 30-year-old is grinning incessantly and gazing back at the lights and the celebration still on the ice. He stumbles into a black knee-high barrier where he is stopped by a security guard.
“Excuse me, sir?” the guard says, pushing his arm out at Crawford.
Crawford, who has beads of sweat dripping down to his bushy beard, breathes heavily.
“I’m sorry, I . . . I have no idea,” Crawford replies.
“I am just so happy for my brother. I just can’t believe . . . I really just don’t know.”
His little brother is Corey Crawford, goalie for the Stanley Cup champion Blackhawks. For the Crawford family, Monday’s victory was a breathless celebration.
It was validation against the critics who didn’t think Crawford could be an NHL starting goalie, validation for those who questioned if Crawford should be benched in these Finals.
“All the years of hard work, dedication, rejection, fighting through things time and time again — it’s all right here,” said Trevor Crawford, earlier on the ice, after he gave his little brother a bear hug. “And it’s all over now.”
It’s been an up-and-down four years for Corey Crawford. When Chicago won the Cup in 2010, Crawford was in the stands as the team’s third-stringer.
The 28-year-old since has won the starting position but the organization never put full trust in him. They signed veteran backup Ray Emery for the 2011-12 season.
These playoffs Crawford has been mentioned as both a Conn Smythe candidate and a player who should be benched. The Bruins scored eight of their first 12 goals on Crawford’s glove side, including all five in Game 4.
“Things were different this year, and it was hard for him at times,” Crawford’s mother, Sylvia said. “But the way he finished, the way this team finished? It’s just like magic. It’s a magical ending.”
Said Blackhawks defenseman Johnny Oduya: “Corey’s the guy that got us here. Everybody that doubted him? Well, he shoved it back to them.”
Crawford fended off 23 shots Monday night. He finished the playoffs with a .932 save percentage and 1.84 goals-against average.
As Crawford fielded questions from reporters on the ice after Game 6, Sylvie Cormier stood a few feet behind. She was sobbing.
Cormier is Crawford’s fiancee. They met 11 years ago when he was playing junior hockey. He proposed on May 13, between the Wild and Red Wings series.
They have not set a wedding date, waiting to see how this season finished.
“We never really talked about the Cup or mentioned it,” Cormier said. “He didn’t want to jinx it.”
Another thing the couple does not talk about is outside criticism.
“Oh, I read those articles,” Cormier said. “And I get more pissed than him. Obviously he must see it, but we really don’t talk about it. He doesn’t want to talk about it.”
Crawford described the final two minutes of Monday’s game — especially the 17.7-second span when Chicago scored twice to go ahead— as a blur.
In fact, minutes after the game, Crawford said he didn’t even know who scored. He was as breathless as his family members, with a smudge of blood on the back left corner of his jersey and sweat all over his face.
“I’ve worked my whole life, my whole life to get to this point,” Crawford said. “It feels great.”
Crawford said he couldn’t believe how heavy the Stanley Cup was when he lifted it. The Canadian, a nonfactor in the series, did not hoist Lord Stanley in 2010.
But that year is hardly a taboo topic in the Crawford household.
Trevor Crawford said he followed the entire series religiously, “I was the hugest Blackhawks fan,” he said.
Trevor Crawford said he knew one day those players would be his brother’s teammates.
“And I knew one day they would count on him,” Trevor Crawford said.Emily Kaplan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter at @emilymkaplan.