Duncan Keith humbled by 'special privilege' of making NHL 100

Duncan Keith humbled by 'special privilege' of making NHL 100

LOS ANGELES – Duncan Keith rubbed shoulders with some of the league's greatest on Friday night. He chatted with Joe Sakic and Peter Forsberg. He stood next to Mark Messier while looking at the picture of the former Edmonton/New York Rangers Stanley Cup champion. Bobby Orr, Nick Lidstrom, Ray Bourque, Scott Niedermayer, Paul Coffey, the defensemen who set the standards, Keith got to be around them all.

It was, as Keith said, "a pretty humbling and special privilege."

"I was watching those guys, studying them and just trying to skate and be like them on the ice," Keith recalled. "I grew up idolizing these guys that I got to meet [Friday night]. Those are guys that I think helped turn me into the player that I am today."

As awestruck as Keith was by those who came before him, the Blackhawks defenseman has started to garner that same reaction from many of his peers. It's for good reason: Keith claims three Stanley Cups, two Norris trophies, one Conn Smythe and now a spot on the NHL 100, a list featuring the 100 greatest players in league history, which was announced on Friday. For those who have watched what Keith's done during his career, he's earned it all.

"The first time I saw Duncan Keith, I coached against him in a Memorial Cup in junior hockey in Quebec City. At that time, no one knew he was going to be the Duncan Keith he's become but you could see it even then," San Jose coach Pete DeBoer said. "He controlled the tempo and the pace of the game. When you've got a guy like that, they're invaluable and he's obviously been a big part of their success."

To those who have faced Keith, it's not easy. Anyone who's watched the Blackhawks for any amount of time knows about Keith's endurance, especially during the postseason. 

"He plays over 30 minutes a night and just gets better and better the more he plays. His stamina and consistency, offensively and defensively, makes the players around him better," said Tampa Bay defenseman Victor Hedman. "Playing against him, to this day, you try to pick up things from guys you look up to. Obviously he's at the top of the list when you look at players and what they can bring to your game."

[SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!]

Seth Jones, now with the Columbus Blue Jackets, faced Keith plenty when he was still with the Nashville Predators.  

"Three Cups and quarterbacking the blue line of those teams: he's really the guy," Jones said. "He's probably one of their more emotional leaders. I wasn't in the room but on the ice he seemed like their engine back there. He was tough to handle when we were in the same division, seeing him five or six times a year."

Keith certainly has the respect from the hockey world. As far as attention on the Blackhawks, Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane, who were also named to the NHL 100, usually get the lion's share of it. That's just fine with Keith.

"I don't have to talk to media as much," Keith said with a laugh. "I don't mind it. I think Kane and Toews deserve what they get. They are what they are and you know, I always thought forwards always get more of a limelight anyways. They're the ones who score goals, and that's the hardest thing to do is score goals. We've had a lot of players in Chicago who have played big roles in Chicago and in the success we've had and maybe not gotten the notoriety, even myself. I don't feel like I need more or [that] I'm not getting what Toews and Kane are getting as far as recognition."

Of the conversations Keith had with fellow NHL 100 honorees on Friday, Keith said one he had with Sakic and Forsberg stuck out the most. Keith said he saw the close bond the two former Colorado Avalanche forwards had, and it reminded him of the one he has with some of his fellow Blackhawks.

"They won Cups together, they've been through a lot. Seeing how they interacted with one another, it reminded me of how myself, [Brent Seabrook] and [Patrick] Sharp and Kane and Toews interact with one another. That bond we've had over the years, especially when you go through a long playoff grind and end up winning, it's that same kind of feeling. The conversations I had with Peter and Joe reminded me of that a lot." 

Keith was humbled at joining the NHL 100. It was quite an honor, being named with some of the greats he idolized and tried to emulate. But Keith never spends too much time reveling in what he's accomplished. He's too busy trying to do more.

"I'm never satisfied in anything I've done because I don't want to ever feel like I'm resting on laurels. I'm always hungry to do more and that's what's part of makes me successful, what's made me successful in the past and to continue having success," Keith said. "I'm certainly proud of this but at the same time I'm not going to sit here and reflect too much. Because I know in the game on Tuesday in San Jose, they won't be letting me off easy because I'm in the top 100."

Hawks Talk Podcast: Connor Murphy interview and narrowing down potential draft candidates at No. 3 for Blackhawks


Hawks Talk Podcast: Connor Murphy interview and narrowing down potential draft candidates at No. 3 for Blackhawks

On the latest Hawks Talk Podcast, Connor Murphy joins the show to break down the Blackhawks' man-on-man defensive zone coverage, how the team stayed together during the long losing skids and do the young players have a strong voice in the locker room?

Pat Boyle is then joined by Slavko Bekovic and Charlie Roumeliotis to discuss what the Blackhawks may be thinking with the No. 3 overall pick and narrow the field to three potential candidates. Should the Blackhawks draft for need or best available player?

Plus, the guys provide an update on how the Blackhawks are performing at the 2019 IIHF World Championship.

0:45 – Connor Murphy joins the podcast

2:00 – Murphy’s summer so far

2:35 – Murphy’s off-ice training regimen

3:35 – Murphy evaluates his season

5:05 – Murphy on comeback from injury

6:30 – Murphy explains the Hawks d-zone coverage

10:00 – Murphy’s conversations with father Gord Murphy

12:10 – Murphy on making it through tough times last season

13:10 – Murphy on unity between vets and youth

14:25 – Murphy’s goals for the future

17:00 – Hawks draft prospects one month out from NHL Draft

19:30 – Byram’s stock up while Podkolzin’s stock down

21:00 – Should Blackhawks draft for need and improve now?

26:25 – Future of the Blackhawks blue-line

33:15 – Blackhawks replenishing the prospect pipeline

35:45 – Our top 3 prospects for the No. 3 pick

41:05 – How the Blackhawks are doing at the IIHF World Championship

Listen to the entire podcast here or in the embedded player below.

Blackhawks Talk Podcast


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Blackhawks mailbag: Trade probabilities and playoff chances in 2019-20


Blackhawks mailbag: Trade probabilities and playoff chances in 2019-20

Every Friday this offseason, Charlie Roumeliotis will look to answer your Blackhawks and hockey-related questions. Be sure to chime in using the hashtag #HawksMailbag on Twitter for a chance to have your question answered in the next edition.

Based off of your conversations with Craig Button, Mark Kelley, Mark Eaton, etc. [on the Hawks Talk Podcast] which draft prospect makes the most sense to take at number 3?

Hey Charlie! Who do you believe the Blackhawks are gonna pick third overall and why?

We're almost a month away from the NHL Draft in Vancouver and the Blackhawks have had more than five weeks to prepare for who they might take at No. 3 overall. The organization held scouting meetings in the first week of May and Blackhawks Vice President of Amateur Scouting Mark Kelley joined the Hawks Talk Podcast and touched on whether they're leaning a certain direction yet.

"We don't," he said. "Stan [Bowman] and I, we haven't even asked that question of each other. I think we both trust the process."

The Blackhawks have conducted most of their on-ice research at this point. Now it's more about gathering second and third layer information and diving into their personal backgrounds, which they will do at the NHL Scouting Combine from May 27-June 1 in Buffalo when they sit down and interview all the top prospects.

But getting back to the original question(s): If we had to narrow the field right now, 17-year-old standout defenseman Bowen Byram and USA star center and Illinois native Alex Turcotte might be separating themselves as the favorites to be taken at No. 3. Byram is as complete of a defenseman as they come and Turcotte is a potential future first-line two-way center. Both of those players would make sense for different reasons.

Hi Charlie! Could Hawks get a dman and/or top 9 forward through trade from a cap troubled team like Lightning, Pittsburgh instead of potential overpaying a free agent?

There are always pros and cons to everything. In free agency, there's the risk of overpaying and being locked into a long-term contract that could make life challenging in a salary cap world. On the flip side, dipping into the trade market means you have to give up assets. 

The Blackhawks have spent the past three years trying to replenish their farm system because they spent the previous decade using that ammo to go for it all. The only way it makes sense for the Blackhawks to acquire a top-four defenseman or top-six forward is if it's for a player that could impact the team in both the short term and long term, and is on an affordable long-term contract.

That being said, the Blackhawks should absolutely explore what's out there because there's an urgency to get things turned around as soon as possible.

With the signing of Dahlstrom & Koekkoek and the expected signing of Forsling, do you think the Blackhawks make a trade involving a defenseman before the draft? Especially with all the recent hype of Bowen Byram. Seems like there are more expendable dmen than ever right now.

If the Blackhawks believe Byram is the best player available at No. 3, they will take him and "worry" about the logjam of defensemen prospects the next day. Even if they don't draft Byram, it's hard to see a path for their Big Four blue line chips (Nicolas Beaudin, Adam Boqvist, Henri Jokiharju and Ian Mitchell) to break in around the same time — or with the team, at all — simply because the math doesn't work. There aren't enough roster spots available.

We're of the mindset that the Blackhawks should continue to develop them under their own roof because their value increases as they become more NHL ready and if they're developed properly. If they see a deal that benefits the team now and four-plus years from now, the Blackhawks will pull the trigger on something like that if or whenever it ever crosses their desk. Whether that could come before or after the draft, who knows.

1) Was Toews not invited to play for Team Canada or did he decline? 

2) Can Kane and DeBrincat help USA to Gold this year? 

3) Any chance or rumors of draft day trades? Up or down?


1) Team Canada likely reached out, but Jonathan Toews has accomplished everything there is to internationally so it's completely understandable if he respectfully passed on the opportunity. Two Olympic gold medals, two gold medals at the World Junior Championships, a gold medal at the World Cup and another gold at the IIHF World Championship. He's paid his dues. And at 31 years old, rest and recovery are more important than adding more mileage on his body.

2) This is probably the deepest team USA has fielded. And it started with Patrick Kane committing as captain for the second straight year. They have the center depth (Jack Eichel, Dylan Larkin, Jack Hughes and Luke Glendening), high-end defensemen (Noah Hanifin, Quinn Hughes, Ryan Suter and Zach Werenski) and firepower on the wing (Alex DeBrincat, Johnny Gaudreau, Kane and James van Riemsdyk) to make a deep run. The biggest question mark is whether or not their goaltending (Thatcher Demko and Cory Schneider) can hold up their end of the bargain. 

3) It's safe to say there is less than a 1 percent chance that the Blackhawks trade up from No. 3. The Devils are trying to re-sign Taylor Hall and trading out of the No. 1 spot and losing out on Jack Hughes would be inexcusable. And the Rangers, who hold the No. 2 pick and are expected to have their hand in some marquee free agents this summer, could speed up their rebuilding process by adding Kaapo Kakko, who's dominating the IIHF World Championship right now.

Trading back, although unlikely, is an interesting possibility and one to consider only if you're fixated on a player and can guarantee that he'll still be on the board a couple picks later. The other part of the equation is finding a team that's hungry enough to both jump up and give up the assets to do it. But we shouldn't spend too much time on this. It would take a lot for the Blackhawks to want to move out of No. 3 in general.

Will the Hawks be a playoff team this year?

The Blackhawks missed the playoffs this season by only six points despite everything that went on: a midseason coaching change, Corey Crawford missing action with another concussion and two eight-game losing streaks. But that may have been more about the top-heavy Western Conference, with the Colorado Avalanche securing the second wildcard spot at 90 points. The bar will likely be heightened next season.

If the Blackhawks want to avoid a three-year playoff drought, things need to change, such as overall possession numbers, team defense and the penalty kill. And if they play their cards right this summer, it can: No. 3 overall pick, financial flexibility they haven't had before with Bowman in charge and a full training camp under head coach Jeremy Colliton to get on the same page.

The Blackhawks also need teams above them to take a step back, which is possible when you factor in the question marks surrounding Nashville and Winnipeg in the Central Division after first-round exits this spring. Every year there are surprises in this category. That's hockey.

Early prediction: Playoff hockey will return to Chicago next season.

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