Tuesday, May 25, 2010
By Brett Ballantini
CHICAGO When Duncan Keith took a puck to the face during the second period of Sundays Western Conference finals-clincher over the San Jose Sharks, it seems he didnt flinch. His teammates didnt, either.
When he got hit, I knew hed be back, fellow Chicago Blackhawks alternacap John Madden said. He reacted the smart way. Most guys would just lie on the ice, bleeding. He went to the dressing room to get taken care of as soon as possible.
As it turns out, the procedure to get seven lost teeth taken care of isnt anything youd wish on your most hated enemy.
Duncs told us he had 30 shots of Novocaine in his gums in order to come back, Blackhawks winger Patrick Kane said. I hate needles in the first place, so just hearing that made me squirm.
The young scoring star was clearly in awe of Chicagos leading defenseman, a finalist for the 2009-10 Norris Trophy: Thats the definition of playoff hockey, right there.
Naturally, Keith didnt see his actions as particularly courageous.
My teammates would have done the same thing, he said. Im fine, really. Im eager to get back on the ice.
In fact, its off the ice that, as usual, poses a bigger challenge for the defenseman: I always have trouble getting through interviews, and now its even harder.
Oddly enough, Keith actually feels fortunate that his only injury was some lost chiclets.
In a lot of ways, I was lucky, he said. I didnt break my lip or nose or anything of that magnitude. I feel lucky it wasnt a lot worse.
Of course, when it comes to chides and barbs in the dressing room, the veteran isnt quite so fortunate. As a reward for his valor, Keith is now having to withstand tweaks from his teammates, many of whom already teased him about everything from is low-key demeanor, to his rustic Canadian appearance, to his voice.
He could barely talk before, said a smiling Kris Versteeg. The injury adds to his great face and very, very poor voice.
Hes got a little bit of a lisp now, Kane said. And a million-dollar smile.
Keith admits hes been re-learning to speak without his teeth, and initially, between the Novocain and the lost chiclets, he was pretty hard to understand when he returned to the ice on Sunday.
He was trying to talk to me, but I couldnt understand him, so I just kind of skated away, Kane said, laughing. Sharp told me he did the same thing. So finally Duncan just gave up.
So, what was it Keith was trying to communicate to his teammates?
Said Sundays hero, laughing through his newly-formed gap: Gimme the puck!
Brett Ballantini isCSNChicago.com's Blackhawks Insider. Follow him @CSNChi_Beatnikon Twitter for up-to-the-minute Hawksinformation.