Brent Seabrook barely waited for the question to finish before giving his answer. It was about his longtime defensive partner Duncan Keith, so it was easy.
“Unbelievable,” Seabrook said of Keith this postseason. “He’s been unbelievable for a long time and what he did this playoffs was amazing. He got a huge goal tonight to get us started and he’s just an amazing player.”
Indeed, Keith capped a tremendous playoff run by winning the Conn Smythe Trophy for the most valuable player of the postseason. Keith, who scored what ended up being the game-winning goal in the second period, played a ton of minutes. He kept saying he wasn’t tired, and he wasn’t kidding. Maybe he lied, but he wasn’t showing the fatigue. And after playing an incredible 700 minutes, Keith still had energy to hoist the Conn Smythe as well as that Stanley Cup, the latter for the third time in his career, after the Blackhawks' 2-0 Game 6 victory.
“It’s been really special,” Keith said of these winning seasons. “Obviously, you play with the same guys for a long time and you develop a bond and then when you can win a championship, it just reinforces that. To be able to do it three times we’re all proud of it. We all talked about what it would be like and like I said,we’re just super proud to be part of a group like this.”
As much as Keith always preaches the team-first mentality, he needs to take a heap of credit for himself. When Michal Rozsival went down with a fractured ankle at the end of the second round, Keith and his fellow top defensemen – Niklas Hjalmarsson, Johnny Oduya and Seabrook – knew they’d have to play the extra minutes. Keith constantly played more minutes and constantly deflected the “are you tired” questions. His stamina surprised many, including some of his newer teammates.
“No one more deserving,” Brad Richards said. “Right from the first game against Nashville, I saw a different level of hockey that I’m not sure I’ve ever seen on my team. Just how [he] kept doing it and never showed any signs of fatigue. He’s probably the best player I’ve ever seen live. It was unbelievable what he did out there."
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Those sentiments were echoed by Jonathan Toews, who added “it’s about time” Keith got an individual NHL accolade.
“We all know he’s going to go down as one of the great players to play the game,” Toews said. “In our room we knew that before the playoffs but he keeps proving it time and time again. So I couldn’t be happier for a guy like that. It’s really incredible.”
The Blackhawks got here with a team effort but Keith led the charge. From start to finish, he was the team’s most consistent player. Those minutes apparently didn’t tire him out after all. Still, the chance to relax now isn’t sounding too bad.
“It’s a lot of feelings of happiness obviously but there’s some belief we got the job done,” Keith said. “We can take a breath now.”