Blackhawks' Duncan Keith feeling encouraged at Day 1 of camp

Blackhawks' Duncan Keith feeling encouraged at Day 1 of camp

Duncan Keith wasn’t feeling right about a month ago.

It was that right knee, the one on which he had surgery last October, so Keith decided not to play for Team Canada in the World Cup of Hockey in Toronto. Instead he focused on getting that knee fully healed and preparing for this season with the Blackhawks.

A month later, it’s turning out to be a wise decision.

Keith won’t play in Saturday’s scrimmage but he practiced on Friday when the Blackhawks opened training camp at Johnny’s IceHouse West. While he won’t be doing everything this preseason — assistant coach Mike Kitchen said Keith may not play in any scrimmages — Keith is feeling better than he did when he bowed out of World Cup.

“It's just kind of been basically going on for a while now. I tried to use some time this summer to rest it and do some different things. Once I started skating it didn't react very well so I had to do a few different things to try and get it ready,” Keith said. “It was disappointing I wasn't ready to go for the World Cup. But maybe I wouldn't be where I am right now if I didn't take the time to let it rest and not start skating again until a couple of weeks ago.”

Brent Seabrook wasn’t surprised that Keith didn’t show much of an issue.

“That guy is amazing. It looks like he hasn’t missed a step. But that’s Dunc for you,” Seabrook said. “He’s one of those kind of guys.

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Keith said he’s been skating for about a month now, so the 25-minute practice on Friday was no problem.

Assistant coach Mike Kitchen said Keith “should be fine” for the season opener. Kitchen added that they won’t push Keith this preseason, They’ll also leave it up to Keith to decide if he wants to play a later scrimmage. Considering how much Keith plays during the season, Kitchen said they’re going to be as cautious as possible these next two-plus weeks. And they’ll try to rein in the workaholic Keith as much as they can.

“He wanted to go out for two practices, and we said, ‘No, just go one,’” Kitchen said. “We’re so early in camp. There’s no reason for us to push him at all.”

As far as Keith’s fitness level, Kitchen has no worries in that department, either.

“He brought that up the other day. I watched him before camp started and he was really pushing himself. I said, ‘How can you push yourself so hard? You’re a fit guy anyway.’ You don’t lose it. Those kind of guys don’t lose their fitness and are so conscious of it,” Kitchen said. “He’s at such a high level and it doesn’t take much for him to maintain that level.”

Keith was disappointed to miss World Cup of Hockey but naturally he likes what Team Canada is doing there thus far — “I think they’re going to win, but we’ll see what happens.” But Keith had to do what was best for him and the Blackhawks. Right now, he’s optimistic he’ll be ready to start the season.

“There's no concern to be honest with you. It's just like any type of thing you go through where you do the rehab and you get it ready, and when you're ready to play you're playing and there's no excuses by then,” Keith said. “I'm confident, I feel strong out there. I feel like this offseason has given me a lot of time to basically recover from six, seven, eight seasons prior to that. Since I haven't skated in a long time and getting back on the ice back here in September, I think that's all it is, is just kind of shaking some of that rust off and making sure my knee is getting better and better.”

Jonathan Toews and Duncan Keith separated at Blackhawks morning skate

USA Today

Jonathan Toews and Duncan Keith separated at Blackhawks morning skate

Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews and alternate captain Duncan Keith had to be separated during Tuesday's morning skate after the two appeared to get into a confrontation.

The two three-time Stanley Cup champs wrestled to the ice, with Toews pinning Keith down. Assistant coach Sheldon Brookbank broke the pair up.

“Just a little friendly wrestling," Toews said of the bout. "Were ready to go. It’s a big game tonight. I think the whole point of morning skate is to get going and we’re ready now.”

"You got a brother?" Colliton asked Chicago Tribune reporter Jimmy Greenfield, who asked about the altercation. "I do too and I got two boys at home, so I've seen that movie before."

Things have been looking up for Chicago, which is three points out of a WIld Card spot and riding a five-game winning streak with one game left before the All-Star break. 

"I don't know," Patrick Kane said with a laugh regarding the kerfuffle. "I think they were just messing around, I'm not really sure what happened there." 

The Hawks welcome coach Joel Quenneville back to the United Center for the first time since he was fired on Nov. 6 of 2018 Tuesday night. Quenneville now coaches the Florida Panthers, third in the Atlantic Division.

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Blackhawks Talk Podcast: A sit-down interview with Joel Quenneville

USA Today

Blackhawks Talk Podcast: A sit-down interview with Joel Quenneville

Former Blackhawks head coach and current Florida Panthers head coach Joel Quenneville sits down with NBC Sports Chicago Blackhawks Insider Charlie Roumeliotis and as they discuss his transition to a new job, parallels he sees from his young Hawks team and his current young Panthers team, and his feelings about returning to Chicago. Pat Boyle, and Scott King also discuss their memories about Coach Q and his impact on not only the Hawks, but the sport as well.

(1:34:) - Thoughts and memories of Coach Q

(4:13) - Quenneville's impact on his players

(11:02) - Coach Quenneville's sit down interview**

(24:02) - Reaction to the Quenneville interview

(25:56) – Calgary game still bothers Quenneville

(29:52) - How fans will react to Quenneville's return

Listen to the full podcast here or via the embedded player below:

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