Hawk Talk: Teammates in awe of Keith's sacrifice

178068.jpg

Hawk Talk: Teammates in awe of Keith's sacrifice

Tuesday, May 25, 2010
3:36 PM

By Brett Ballantini
CSNChicago.com

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.

Blackhawks: Tommy Wingels fractures foot, will be ready for training camp

Blackhawks: Tommy Wingels fractures foot, will be ready for training camp

Tommy Wingels, who the Blackhawks acquired earlier this month, will miss 6-8 weeks after suffering a left-foot fracture during his offseason training. Team physician Dr. Michael Terry said in a statement that the Blackhawks, “anticipate a full recovery in 6-8 weeks and in time for training camp. We do not anticipate any long-term issues.”

The Blackhawks signed Wingels, a Wilmette native, to a one-year deal on July 1. Wingels will still be at this weekend’s convention.

Why Blackhawks fans might want to tap the brakes on Alex DeBrincat

Why Blackhawks fans might want to tap the brakes on Alex DeBrincat

This is public service announcement regarding Alex DeBrincat and his potential this season with the Blackhawks:

Tap the brakes.

We’ve relayed this address a few times the past few seasons, most notably with Teuvo Teravainen as people eagerly anticipated his professional debut. We’re pretty sure when he was recalled for the first time, exultant trumpets played faintly in the background. But it bears repeating now with DeBrincat, who might or might not do fantastic things right out of training camp.

This warning, however, comes not only because DeBrincat might not be ready for the grand stage play-wise. It’s also because the Blackhawks might not have room for him.

Take a look at CapFriendly.com for the Blackhawks’ current situation: As they enter the fall they’re roughly $35,000 over the $75 million salary cap, but it’s not so much about money as it is the roster setup. There are 22 players currently listed on the Blackhawk’s CapFriendly roster, but only five defensemen. Also, of the 14 forwards listed, only one could be sent to Rockford without going through waivers (Nick Schmaltz).

So if there’s no room for DeBrincat, don’t be surprised.

Still, it’s going to be interesting to see what DeBrincat does at training camp this fall. You understand why the hype is there. DeBrincat is coming off three stellar seasons with the Erie Otters, with whom he had 127 points (65 goals, 62 assists) last season. DeBrincat is hopeful that a strong training camp could lead to opportunity, but he understands it might not be right away.

“I’m confident in my abilities,” DeBrincat said. “But they have a plan for me and I’ll do whatever they want me to do. I’ll stick with their plan.”

But the Blackhawks will take the slow-and steady approach with him as they did with past younger players. He’s only 19 years old, so there’s no need to rush his development. Playing time in the American Hockey League could be very beneficial for him as he makes the jump from the OHL to the pros. As former Otters coach Kris Knoblauch said earlier this summer, dealing with bigger and stronger players at this level is going to be the toughest hurdle for DeBrincat.

“It’s not that he’s afraid; he’s very good at battles. But just playing against the opposition, against five strong, fast players and just finding out how much time he has, where the room is,” Knoblauch said in early June. “One-on-one battles in our league, there are strong guys and he does fairly well. But when you have a unit of guys, it makes the game a little more difficult.”

DeBrincat will have his time with the Blackhawks. It just might not be right away, and for several reasons, including the current roster setup. So let’s tap the brakes. For now, anyway.