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Blackhawks breakdown:Duncan Keith

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Blackhawks breakdown:Duncan Keith

Over the next five weeks, CSNChicago.com Blackhawks Insider Tracey Myers and PGL host Chris Boden will evaluate the 2011-12 performance of each player on the Hawks roster. One breakdown will occur every weekday in numerical order.

Duncan Keith played in 74 games in 2011-12, scoring four goals with 36 assists (40 points) and a plus-15 rating. One of his goals and 12 assists came on the power play. In 26 minutes and 54 seconds of ice time per game, Keith had 121 blocked shots and was credited with 45 hits. In the playoffs, Keith had zero goals and one assist with seven blocked shots and finished a plus-1 in the six-game series vs. Phoenix.

Boden's take: He set the bar so high in his magnificent Norris Trophy-winning season that it's almost been a curse the past two years. Rather unfairly, that also puts a greater focus on the 11 years and 61 million remaining on his contract. While Keith's offensive numbers have shrunk since that Olympic Gold and Cup-winning campaign, I feel this year was better overall than 2010-11, especially in his own end where he seemed less prone to turning the puck over than a year ago as the team's ice-time workhorse following that short summer.

Let's also remember as integral a part of the title team as he was, he was also helped by the depth of the cast around him. One offensive issue he's continued to run into is opponents blocking his shooting lanes. As an alternate captain, he's been a good leader by all accounts both in the locker room and facing the media through good times and bad.

Myers' take: If anyone was going to benefit from the long offseason entering 2011-12, it was going to be Keith, right? Well, yes and no.

At times, Keith was showing that strong play that earned him the Norris. But at other times, Keith was still struggling. Be it turnovers or his elbow to Daniel Sedin's head, Keith made his share of costly mistakes. Part of it was Keith, once again, playing a ton along the blue line. The moves made last offseason to add defensive depth didn't work out so well -- Sami Lepisto and Sean O'Donnell were onoff scratches and Steve Montador was hurt for the final two months of the season. But Keith was at his best when he and Brent Seabrook were together again toward the end of the regular season. Hey, familiarity breeds confidence.

2012-13 Expectations

Chris: Keith welcomes the workload. His unique lung capacity allows it, and I wouldn't be surprised if that continues next season. But as he enters his eighth season and turns 29, I'm curious to see if he'd inch closer to the Norris level from two years ago if 2-3 minutes of average ice time were shaved off. More than one long-time NHL observer has told me Keith shouldn't be leaned upon on the power play, in addition to his penalty-killing and top-pair duties.

Maybe the Hawks' offseason priority should be targeting a top-four defenseman with size, who has a cannon from the point for the power play and a nasty streak to help Seabrook clear the doorstep for the second pair and on the kill.

Tracey: Keith's currently at the World Championships in Finland; but after that he'll get another offseason of good rest. Keith could get back to his strong play again next season, but truly adding depth to that blue line would help him. Whenever someone gets hurt or fails to carry their weight, it usually falls on Keith to take up the extra minutes. That can't happen again. Give him a normal workload, and he should be steady again.

How do you feel about this evaluation? As always, be sure to chime in with your thoughts by commenting below and check out the highlights above for some of Keith's best games of the season.

Up next: Niklas Hjalmarsson

Why Cubs, rest of baseball sweat as MLB battles coronavirus testing issues

Why Cubs, rest of baseball sweat as MLB battles coronavirus testing issues

It was never going to be perfect.

But Major League Baseball’s coronavirus testing system needs to be good enough.

That may not seem like an especially high bar to set.

But so far it has been a difficult one for baseball to clear.

In fact, the latest example of baseball's biggest challenge in pulling off a 60-game season played out at Wrigley Field on Monday. That's when the team that by all indications has done the best job of establishing and following safe practices had its manager and five other “Tier 1” members of the organization sit out activities “out of an abundance of caution” because their latest COVID-19 tests, from Saturday, remained “pending.”

Tier 1, by the way, comprises the 80-something members of the organization with the highest access, including players and coaches.

The results had been analyzed. But as pitching coach Tommy Hottovy explained, they appeared to be in a batch of samples that included at least one positive test, the batch involving multiple teams. So they were retested. Five of those retested samples, including manager David Ross’, were negative, the team said late Monday, with the sixth considered “compromised” and another test done.

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The sixth did not belong to a player.

Give the Cubs another gold star for getting through yet another round of tests — and yet another glitch in that process — without having a player test positive.

But give MLB another kick in the ass. The testing issues don’t seem to be as bad as they were throughout the league that first holiday weekend of processing. But it hasn’t fixed this thing yet, either.

Whether it’s a lab-capacity issue, a quality issue or a shipping issue, it’s not even close to good enough.

Not for 30 teams barely a week from leaving their individual training-site bubbles to start playing each other for two months. Not when more than one-third of those teams play in locales considered hot spots for the pandemic. Not in the world’s most infected country.

“We do feel comfortable in this bubble that we’ve kind of created here,” said Hottovy, who was hit hard by the virus for a month before camp started. “When the season starts though and we start traveling and we start putting ourselves in some different circumstances, we just don’t know what to expect with that.

“We’re still taking this day-to-day for sure.”

Players across baseball, including Cubs star Kris Bryant, said they were upset and surprised at how unprepared MLB’s testing system appeared to be when camps opened. Two weeks of testing later, and just enough issues persist to make the league’s entire 2020 undertaking look more tenuous than ever.

The season starts July 23. That’s not much time to get it “good enough” — never mind to get it right. But, again, we're not asking for perfection.

The league protocols require testing thousands of players and other team personnel every other day through the end of the season.

Imagine sitting a manager and three or four players from a single team on a game day because of “pending” or “compromised” test results. Imagine that happening two or three times a week to various teams. Or worse — imagine a given team doesn’t exercise “an abundance of caution” and puts the players or staff in question on the field or in the dugout and clubhouse anyway.

“The only concern that I have right now is how long the test will take to get the results back,” Cubs catcher Willson Contreras said on Thursday. “Other than that, I don’t think I am at risk inside of the ballpark because the Cubs have been doing the best they can to keep us safe in here."

“I don’t have any concerns about my teammates, because I trust them. I know we all are doing our best to keep [each other] safe, and that way we can have a season this year.”

Contreras expressed tolerance with the system so far and was reluctant to point a finger at MLB or anyone else.

“But how can that get better?” he said. “I have no answer for that.”

It doesn’t matter whose fault it is as much as it matters that an answer is found quickly.

Players, staff and their families already have taken on the daily stress and anxiety of this health risk and the every-other-day process of holding your breath until the next result comes in.

“You get that test day coming up when you might get results, and it’s a little bit of that unknown, a little bit of anxiety of, ‘Have I done everything right?’ “ Ross said. “You start running back the day since you’ve been tested and what you’ve done, where you’ve gone, who you’ve been in contact with, just in case something bad may come back on your test. It’s real.”

Thirteen players, including Giants star Buster Posey, already have declined to play this season, all but one without a pre-existing condition that would qualify as “high risk” under the agreement between players and management.

Angels superstar Mike Trout heads a list of several more who have talked openly about opting out at some point, depending on how things look as we get closer to games.

That includes Cubs starter Yu Darvish, who said Sunday, “I still have concerns” and that he has not ruled out heading home if he doesn’t feel it’s safe anymore for him or his family to keep playing.

Maybe Trout, Darvish, Posey and the rest of those players have the right idea.

In fact, maybe we’d all be better off if baseball rededicated its testing capacity to a general public that suddenly is facing shortages again in a growing number of hot spots.

But if baseball is going to stick to its plan and try to pull off this season, then it needs to get this right. Right now.

Nobody’s expecting anything great at this point. Maybe not even especially good. But good enough? In the next week or so?

Would that be too much to ask?

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Blackhawks' Andrew Shaw announces he plans to return for 2020-21 season

Blackhawks' Andrew Shaw announces he plans to return for 2020-21 season

Andrew Shaw issued a statement on Instagram late Monday night, announcing he will not join the Blackhawks for the 2019-20 restart as he continues to work his way back from a concussion.

But the 28-year-old winger also revealed he plans on returning for the 2020-21 season and looks forward to coming back "better and stronger than ever!" 

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Here's the full statement, which has been lightly edited for clarity:

I just wanted to let all Blackhawks fans and hockey fans know that I am doing well and getting better every day! I feel healthy and am close to fully being healed from not just my last concussion but from others I have had over the years.

I've learned a lot about concussions and head injuries over the past few years thanks to the Blackhawks medical staff of Dr. Mike Terry, Mike Gapski, Jeff Thomas and Patrick Becker. They have helped me in more ways than I can thank them. I love them dearly for doing so because I am the type of person who would play through anything for my teammates.

With all that being said, along with my family who has shown me so much support, we have come to the difficult decision that these extra five months until next season would be great for my health and recovery. I look forward to being back next season, better and stronger than ever! There's nothing I would love more than to be back out on the ice with the boys battling for Lord Stanley.

I'll be cheering my teammates on and supporting the Blackhawks through this run! Love you boys and miss you like crazy!

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Go Blackhawks Go! Hey fans!

A post shared by Andrew Shaw (@shawz65) on

Shaw, who has two years left on his contract after this season, has a history of head injuries and last appeared in a game on Nov. 30. The NHL's tentative plan is to start next season on Dec. 1.