Blackhawks: Duncan Keith out 4 to 6 weeks after knee surgery


Blackhawks: Duncan Keith out 4 to 6 weeks after knee surgery

Duncan Keith has become as well known for his health and minutes played as much as his high level of play during those minutes.

There are times it seems he’s constantly on the ice – the 2015 postseason, when he played more than 715 total minutes, was a great example of that. The minutes have rarely effected the individual game, however, as Keith has consistently performed at a high level for many seasons.

Now one of the league’s most durable players is out for a month, and the Blackhawks are going to have to adjust fast.

Keith underwent successful surgery to repair a right knee meniscal tear, the Blackhawks announced on Tuesday morning. Keith, according to team physician Dr. Michael Terry, should be back within 4-6 weeks. Quenneville said he expects Keith to be ready in that time frame. Considering Keith’s fitness regimen, his teammates are expecting Keith back on schedule.

“He does everything right, on and off the ice. He’ll be doing everything he can to make sure that not only is he better in a quicker timeperiod, but he’s going to come back stronger and ready to go mentally and physically,” Jonathan Toews said. “For now, I don’t think we want him to put too much pressure on himself. It’s a long season and there will be plenty of hockey to play when he comes back, so we want him to be ready for that.”

[NBC SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!]

The defenseman played the entire game on Saturday, when the Blackhawks beat the Columbus Blue Jackets 4-1. Coach Joel Quenneville said there was “no defining blow” in that game that led to Keith’s injury. Quenneville and Marian Hossa said Keith had been bothered by the injury – Hossa said he talked to Keith about it a few days ago – but neither knew how long Keith had been dealing with it.

Considering that, as tough as it is to lose Keith, it might be best if he takes care of the issue now instead of waiting for it to get worse.

Meanwhile, the Blackhawks are going to have to play the next few weeks without their top defenseman. They’ll miss him in all areas, from 5-on-5 to the power play to the penalty kill to the locker room. The Blackhawks have long focused on a defense-first mentality, for forwards and defensemen, and that’s doubly so now.

“We all have to be responsible in team game, with or without the puck,” Quenneville said. “A lot of defensemen are going to get a lot of responsibility, quality enhanced in their ice time as well. We don’t want to change our style of play. At the same time, we want to make sure we’re playing the right way.”

Hossa agreed.

“I think the good thing is everybody realizes, missing a player like that, not only the defense has to step up but the forwards,” he said. “That’s what we mean by back-checking, helping our D, helping our younger D to make it easier for them. That’s going to be important.”

Quenneville said it’s possible the Blackhawks place Keith on long-term injured reserve, which is for a player who will be out 24 days and 10 games. Keith carries a cap hit of $5.5 million per season. Fellow defenseman Michal Rozsival (ankle) is currently on LTIR and is due to come off at the end of this month.

The Blackhawks have gone without key players in previous seasons. The added wrinkle here is that it’s Keith, who is part of what’s now a very young defensive group. The Blackhawks will improvise, draw on past experiences and hopefully get a little bit more from everyone.

“When I went down, you saw this team win a lot of games 1-0, 2-1, they weren’t giving up a lot of goals, playing well defensively,” Patrick Kane said, referring to his collarbone fracture last February. “Maybe revert back to that, make sure we’re taking care of business on our side of the red line. It won’t be easy to replace him. But someone will get an opportunity to step up, whether it’s collectively as a D core or even us as forwards, to help kind of fill that void on the back end.”


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


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!

10 years with 'Coach Q' anything but ordinary

10 years with 'Coach Q' anything but ordinary

Over the last 10 years, the words “ordinary” and "OK" have taken on a new meaning to Blackhawks players and fans alike. 

That’s “Coach Q” speak. 

A language where “ordinary” means awful and “just OK” means you were a non-factor. The good news is the last 10 seasons under Joel Quenneville have been anything but ordinary at the United Center. 

On Oct. 16th, 2008, the Blackhawks let go of fan-favorite Denis Savard after a 1-2-1 start to the season and named Quenneville as head coach in his place. Quenneville coached the Colorado Avalanche the previous season, but after another disappointing exit in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, the two mutually parted ways. He had originally planned to stay away from the bench for at least a season, but the Blackhawks triumvirate of Rocky Wirtz, John McDonough and then-GM Dale Tallon brought Quenneville on as a scout and then handed him the keys to the car shortly after.

“Dale’s obligation is to put together a winning team,” said McDonough at Quenneville’s introductory press conference. “At this point, Joel is the coach of that team.”

It was an emotional day at the Blackhawks offices. Savard – a Blackhawks legend on the ice and a coach the players held in high regard – was let go just as things started to turn upwards for the organization. The end of the 2007-2008 season saw the Blackhawks once again miss out on the playoffs, but the fans began to flock to the United Center once more, and the hype train around the young team built around Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane was gaining steam.

“Moving forward, if we want to be a championship-caliber organization, we have to make tough decisions,” said Tallon. “This was the toughest decision I’ve ever had to make.” 

Savard was 65-66-16 in parts of three seasons as head coach of the Blackhawks. Meanwhile, Quenneville had compiled eight 95+ point seasons behind the bench for the Blues and Avalanche in his 11 years as a head coach.

“We felt the experience and the track record of Joel would be a balance that we needed with a young, inexperienced team,” said Tallon. "Joel brings us a wealth of experience and a winning track record that will have an immediate and lasting impact."

The gamble paid off for the Blackhawks in a major way. Once Quenneville took over, the team got to the sought-after next level. 

They finished the 08-09 season with 104 points, third-most in the NHL’s Western Conference, had a franchise-record setting 9-game win streak in the month of December and returned to the playoffs for the first time since the 2001-2002 season. The “young and inexperienced” Blackhawks took the league by storm, dropping the Calgary Flames in the first round of the playoffs in six games before taking down the rival Canucks in the next round.

They ultimately lost out to the Detroit Red Wings in the Western Conference Finals, but the bar was now set for the organization. From then on, the Blackhawks were Stanley Cup contenders. 

Quenneville currently ranks 2nd in franchise history with 449 wins, trailing only Billy Reay’s 516. 

But most importantly, Quenneville’s 76 playoff wins rank at the top in the organization’s long and storied history, and those three Stanley Cups that he’s raised over his head were anything but “ordinary.”