Blackhawks GM Bowman backs Duncan Keith's decision

Blackhawks GM Bowman backs Duncan Keith's decision

Duncan Keith took himself out of the World Cup of Hockey because he wanted to concentrate on recuperating his surgically repaired knee. And Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman was fine with the defenseman’s decision.

“It was something he felt he wouldn’t be able to perform to the level that he needs to in a tournament like this,” Bowman told reporters at the World Cup’s media day on Thursday. “Our job in that is to support whatever – he’s the one that’s got to get on the ice, so if he didn’t feel he was able to do that, then you have to respect that.”

Bowman, speaking at the World Cup of Hockey’s media day on Thursday, talked about Keith, who was selected for Team Canada last spring. But on Aug. 24 Keith opted out of World Cup, choosing to continue rehabbing his right knee. Keith had had surgery on the knee last October. The Blackhawks released a statement that day, saying, “we believe it is in his best interests to focus on getting stronger and not risk further injury.”

Keith is on the Blackhawks’ training camp roster, but whether or not he’s ready to participate immediately at camp is unknown. Bowman, who is assistant GM for Team North America during the World Cup, said he hasn’t talked to Keith about it yet.

“But he’s doing better. I think time will tell,” Bowman said. “I haven’t spoken to him. We’ve been here with this team for the last couple weeks. I haven’t heard any bad news in terms of that. I think it’s going to be one of those things we’ll get a better feel for that when we’re back at the end of this tournament. We’ll get some updates on his performance. But no, we didn’t pressure him not to play. It was more the way he felt, and I guess he just decided it wasn’t going to work for him.”

Three Things to Watch: Blackhawks collide with Senators

NBC Sports Chicago

Three Things to Watch: Blackhawks collide with Senators

Here are Three Things to Watch when the Blackhawks take on the Ottawa Senators tonight on NBC Sports Chicago and streaming live on the NBC Sports app. Coverage begins at 6:30 p.m. with Blackhawks Pregame Live.

1. Trade chips.

The Blackhawks have reached the point in their season where they have no choice but to become sellers before the Feb. 26 deadline, and we saw that when they traded Michal Kempny to the Washington Capitals on Monday for a conditional third-round pick in 2018. Tommy Wingels could also be an attractive piece for a team looking to fill out their depth.

The Senators will definitely be sellers, and wow do they have some names potentially on the market that can fetch large returns: Derrick Brassard and Mike Hoffman are two players who log top-six minutes on a nightly basis and also have term left on their contract, which is great for teams looking to load up for this year and beyond.

The biggest name to watch, probably in the league altogether, is Erik Karlsson, who could be on the move if a team offers a big enough package for the Senators to pull the trigger now as opposed to in the offseason if they feel him re-signing is a long shot. He was the best defenseman last season, and if a team steps up to get him, they're getting two possible postseason runs out of him.

2. Artem Anisimov's experiment at left wing not working.

Joel Quenneville has tried rekindling the magic between Anisimov, Nick Schmaltz and Patrick Kane as of late, only this time Anisimov is playing the wing and it just hasn't been very effective. The trio was on the ice for each of the two 5-on-5 goals the Kings scored on Monday, and Anisimov completely lost his man on the first one.

It's important to establish a consistent left winger for Schmaltz and Kane, and maybe putting Alex DeBrincat up there is something you consider going forward as part of a long-term solution. Move Anisimov back down as the third-line center to play in more of a defensive role and continue using his big body on power plays for his offensive abilities might be the best bet.

3. Win the special teams battle.

In their last meeting against Ottawa on Jan. 9, the Blackhawks went 4-for-6 on the power play and 4-on-4 on the penalty kill in an 8-2 win. And those are two areas to look out for again.

The Senators own the 28th-ranked power play with a 16.1 percent success rate and 29th-ranked penalty kill with a 74.5 percent success rate. Get ready for another offensive outburst?

Podcast: Which Blackhawks could be on the move before trade deadline?


Podcast: Which Blackhawks could be on the move before trade deadline?

On the latest Blackhawks Talk Podcast, Adam Burish and Pat Boyle discuss which Blackhawks could be on the trading block and what players are building blocks for the Hawks future.

Burish also shares a couple memorable trade deadline days and his “near” return to the Blackhawks in 2012. Plus, he makes his bold trade deadline prediction for the Hawks.

Listen to the full Blackhawks Talk Podcast right here: