Duncan Keith was suspended six games by the Department of Player Safety on Friday for high-sticking Charlie Coyle in the Blackhawks’ 4-1 loss to the Minnesota Wild on Tuesday night.
The defenseman will miss the Blackhawks’ final five regular-season games — including Friday’s game at Winnipeg — as well as their first two postseason games. He’s eligible to return in Game 2 of the first round.
In their video explanation of the suspension, the department said:
“As Keith pivots to play the puck, Coyle works to establish body position with his free hand. During this, Coyle’s stick gets entangled with a teammate’s skates. The combination of a shove and the entangled stick causes Keith to lose his balance and fall to the ice. While on his back, Keith looks at Coyle, winds his armback then slashes his stick dangerously and violently directly into the face of Coyle. It’s important to note that Keith is in perfect control of his stick at all times, and this motion is made intentionally, not recklessly.
“This is not a case where two players are battling for position or puck control and a stick rides up suddenly,” the explanation continued. “This is not a defensive high stick. It is also not a case in which a player that is off balance recklessly swings his stick in an uncontrolled manner with an unexpected result. Keith looks directly at his opponent winds his arm back and then whips [the stick] forward in a chopping motion aimed at Coyle’s face.”
The video further explained that, even if Coyle had intentionally tripped Keith “it would not excuse a response of this kind.” The department compared this high stick to the one Keith had on Jeff Carter in the 2013 Western Conference final, for which he was suspended a game – “This is an intentional and retaliatory act of violence by a player with a history of using his stick as a weapon.”
Keith, who waived his in-person hearing, had his phone hearing with the department this afternoon. It’s the third suspension of Keith’s NHL career. Keith forfeits $148,883.35 in salary that goes to the Players’ Emergency Assistance Fund.