Blackhawks

Blackhawks: Duncan Keith apologizes to Charlie Coyle, accepts suspension

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Blackhawks: Duncan Keith apologizes to Charlie Coyle, accepts suspension

Duncan Keith said he apologized to Charlie Coyle for his high-sticking and will not appeal the six-game suspension given to him by the NHL Department of Player Safety.

Keith, who talked after Saturday’s practice, said he accepts the league’s decision and will prep for Game 2 of the postseason, the first game in which he is eligible to return. He wouldn’t specifically talk about the discussion he had with the department.

“That conversation stays in there and at the end of the day, it’s a fast game and it was obviously a reaction and one that I need to be disciplined,” Keith said. “We talked about that as a team and things like that. Obviously I think there’s a limit there and I gotta know that. I will.”

It’s the third time Keith has been suspended in his NHL career and the second time for a high-stick. The league referred to his previous high-stick, one on Jeff Carter that cost Keith a game in the 2013 Western Conference Final, when suspending him for this one on Coyle.

As for his game moving forward, Keith said, “it’s just being smarter and knowing that.”

“At the end of the day, I try to leave it on the ice. I’m not really focused on what I’m trying to leave out there as far as a reputation,” Keith said. “I think everybody wants to have a reputation as a clean, honest player. There’s a line and a limit.”

[MORE HAWKS: Blackhawks will 'move on and learn' from Duncan Keith suspension]

Keith received a match penalty for intent to injure after swinging his stick at Coyle in the first period of Tuesday night’s game against the Minnesota Wild. Keith said he talked to Coyle and apologized.

“I called and left a message and he called me back, so I was appreciative of that. It shows a lot on his part and the type of guy he is too,” Keith said. “They’ve got a good team and they’re playing well. I wished him the best after.”

Keith said he was glad to see Coyle quickly return from his “dangerous play.”

“I was just happy that he was able to come back and play and finish the game and it wasn’t worse.”

While Keith preps during his suspension — suspended players are permitted to practice — the Blackhawks will continue on without him. Coach Joel Quenneville said the young defensemen getting a chance during Keith’s absence have to make the most of the opportunity, but should not try to be something they aren’t.

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“We don’t expect them to be Duncan Keiths. We expect them to take advantage of an opportunity,” Quenneville said. “Play your game, play to your strengths and within the team structure and you can help us that way.”

Keith will take his punishment. The Blackhawks will make do in his absence, spreading Keith’s minutes and responsibilities around the lineup. When he returns, Keith said he’ll be ready.

“Obviously you don’t want to put the team in that situation. That’s the tough part. But I know we’ve got a lot of great defensemen and we’ve got a good team in here. Whether it was missing guys, forwards, defensemen, goalies who’ve been out, guys pick up the slack,” Keith said. “Whoever we play in playoffs, it’s going to be a tough series and it’s going to be — every game’s going to be hard-fought. I’ll be excited to come back for Game 2.”

Corey Crawford expects to make season debut for Blackhawks on Thursday vs. Arizona

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Corey Crawford expects to make season debut for Blackhawks on Thursday vs. Arizona

The wait is almost over.

After missing nearly 10 months with a concussion, Corey Crawford said he expects to start on Thursday when the Blackhawks take on the Arizona Coyotes at the United Center. An official decision will come following the team's morning skate.

"It feels good to be back to myself," Crawford said. "I'm feeling good, I'm feeling clear. ... It was a pretty long process. But I think the most important thing was not to rush anything. When I finally was out, it got to a point where I wasn’t in shape to play and it was time to rest and it’s unfortunate it took a lot longer than I would’ve liked. 

"It’s been long, but finally, just to get back and be practicing with the team has meant a lot. It’s good to get to this point now when you’re really close to playing. Practices have been great, been getting timing a little bit more and getting up to speed and reading shots and all that, so it'll be nice to finally get in one."

Crawford's last appearance in an NHL game was Dec. 23, 2017 against the New Jersey Devils when he allowed three goals on seven shots in 13:22 of action before getting pulled. So of course, emotions will naturally be running high, especially in front of the hometown crowd.

"I'm sure I'll be a little anxious getting into it," Crawford said. "Some nerves. But we'll see. We'll wait until the morning, but I'm definitely excited I can tell you that."

It's obviously terrific news for the Blackhawks, who have picked up eight out of a possible 10 points to start the season and are getting their two-time Stanley Cup winning goalie back between the pipes. It's been a long time coming, and Crawford is coming back into a healthy situation where the Blackhawks are in a good spot in the standings.

"It's great news, I'm sure it'll be exciting for him exciting for our team, exciting for our fans and the organization as well," Patrick Kane said. "It’s probably a good situation all around. Cam [Ward] has done a great job of playing in the net so far. Crow is really good in practice right now, so I’m sure he’s itching to get back, too. We’ve had a good start here. It’s something we want to keep going, and I’m sure him coming back on home ice, in front of our crowd, will be a fun one for him and for our team."

There's no doubting how important Crawford is the team and organization. While there may be a little bit of rust early on, the Blackhawks are expecting him to look like his old self.

"He means a lot to the team," Quenneville said. "We felt last year was a good example of how important he was and how well he was playing for us, as well. We’ve gotten off to a decent start and he was a big factor in it. We know that goaltending is such a big part of the team and your success a lot of nights depends on him and his consistency’s always been in place.

"But he looks good in the net. He’s been off for a long, long time. Is there rust? Do we expect rust? I think the way he’s competing and practicing and finding pucks, he looks like he hasn’t missed a beat. So we’re looking forward to him getting in there and getting comfortable and how he’s feeling going forward will dictate a lot of the decisions about him going back in."

Hawks Talk Podcast: Crawford's return, Saad's demotion and power play concerns

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Hawks Talk Podcast: Crawford's return, Saad's demotion and power play concerns

In the latest Hawks Talk Podcast, Pat Boyle, Charlie Roumeliotis and Slavko Bekovic provide their thoughts on the Blackhawks’ 3-0-2 start.

They also discuss Brandon Saad’s demotion and whether it could serve as a wake-up call, Corey Crawford’s potential return on Thursday vs. Arizona and what could happen with Anton Forsberg because of it, and address the power play concerns.

The guys wrap up the podcast by making a few bold predictions going forward.

Listen to the full podcast here or via the embedded player below, and be sure to subscribe, rate us and write a review!