Duncan Keith back for Blackhawks’ Game 4 after seeing son’s birth
BY MARK LAZERUS firstname.lastname@example.org May 7, 2013 11:33PM
Best of seven
Updated: June 9, 2013 6:43AM
ST. PAUL, Minn. — It was a simple question, but Duncan Keith — addled and exhausted after becoming a dad for the first time and bouncing back between Chicago and the Twin Cities — couldn’t quite come up with an answer for how long he had been awake for.
“What day is today?” he asked, only half joking.
By that point, Keith had been up for roughly 48 hours. He got the call that his wife, Kelly-Rae, was in labor late Monday night/early Tuesday morning, and immediately flew to Chicago to witness the birth of their first child, Colton Duncan Keith, at 11:15 a.m. He then was back at the Xcel Energy Center by 6:30 p.m., and played a team-high 24 minutes in the Blackhawks’ 3-0 victory.
“It’s hard to explain,” he said. “It’s exciting for myself and my wife and it’s kind of a whirlwind, really. It’s been nonstop, on the go, and so much excitement, getting to see my little boy.”
The Hawks flew home immediately after the game, so Keith wasn’t scheduled to get home until 2 or 3 a.m. He was looking forward to seeing Colton again — and also to finally closing his eyes.
“I might sleep till the next game,” he said.
Hawks coach Joel Quenneville didn’t hesitate to let Keith go home.
“Family comes first in situations like that,” Quenneville said. “We want him to be there for his first child’s birth. In this situation, it’s an easy decision. We’re very happy he was there in time and that it all worked out.”
Keith’s teammates were happy for him, too.
“It’s exciting,” 20-year-old rookie Brandon Saad said. “It’s pretty crazy, thinking how young I am, seeing someone have kids. But it’s an exciting moment for him, and we’re looking forward to having him back.”
Hawks captain Jonathan Toews shrugged off Wild coach Mike Yeo’s assertion that the Hawks were “cheating” in the face-off circle in the first two games of the series.
I heard that in a few different series right now, so I don’t know what they’re trying to start there,” Toews said. “That stuff can go both ways. If you complain about stuff like that, I think you’re just feeling sorry for yourself. It’s about being competitive in the faceoff dot.”
The old North Stars are now in Dallas, but the Hawks and Wild are breathing life into the once-heated but long-dormant Chicago-Minnesota rivalry. Both Wild coach Mike Yeo and Hawks captain Jonathan Toews have publicly demanded “hatred” for their opponents from their respective sides.
“Obviously, when you play in the playoffs, it usually carries on to the next year,” Wild captain Mikko Koivu said. “But it’s been hard, honest hockey, and that’s the way it should be. That’s what makes it fun.”
The Hawks’ ferocious rivalry with the Vancouver Canucks was borne not out of division play, but by three straight playoff meetings. With the Wild and Hawks getting moved into the same division next season following this series, this rivalry could be on the fast track to a similar level of animosity.
“Whenever you exit a series … there’s always a little history there that guys don’t forget too quickly,” Toews said. “We’ll see where that goes.”
Wild defenseman Ryan Suter was named one of three finalists for the Norris Trophy, given to the NHL’s top blue-liner, along with Montreal’s P.K. Subban and Pittsburgh’s Kris Letang. Suter has hounded the Hawks all series, including his remarkable 41-minute performance in Game 1.
“We know what type of player he is and obviously he’s had a very good year being a Norris candidate,” Toews said. “He’s one of those guys every single game we want to go in and make his job difficult. And we can do even better job at that and try to take away his confidence. That’s what you do against teams like that, you try to chip away at their best players and not let them go up and play the game that they want to play.”
Hawks left wing Brandon Bollig joined Dave Bolland (groin), Sheldon Brookbank, Jamal Mayers and Ray Emery as scratches, as Daniel Carcillo made his series debut. … Henrik Karlsson again was Corey Crawford’s backup, as Ray Emery (lower-body injury) didn’t dress. … Forward Jason Pominville (concussion), who had 14 goals and 20 assists this season with the Sabres and the Wild, returned for the Game 4. He hadn’t played since April 23.
#Blackhawks starters: Saad-Toews-Hossa, Colton’s Dad-Hjalmarsson, Crawford