Last year’s Conny Smythe recipient is headed towards a hefty suspension just before the playoffs because of last night’s incident with Minnesota’s Charlie Coyle. Duncan Keith didn’t appreciate being taken down by the Wild winger and showed his displeasure in the dumbest way possible. After being taken down by what Keith deemed a slew foot in his own mind from Coyle, the Blackhawks stud defenseman swung his stick from the ice up at the face of Coyle drawing blood. The drawing of blood will be big in the hearing. Keith was immediately given a match penalty and will be mandated to meet with the disciplinary office regarding the offense.
The Hawks have never had to deal with anything like this during the 2016 season, but given the severity of the act, which was clearly deliberate, Keith might be forced to sit out the rest of the regular season at best (5 Games). The Hawks have already clinched a playoff spot and are only in a race with Nashville over where they’ll start their quest for a repeat championship.
The biggest issue at hand is that this isn’t Keith’s first time being suspended. In 2012 he was suspended five games by the NHL for an elbow on Daniel Sedin of the Vancouver Canucks. Brendan Shanahan, head of player safety at the time, suspended Keith. The swinging stick on Coyle last night is likely to get him a much stiffer penalty because of the repeat offender understanding league-wide.
Keith is a stalwart for the Blackhawks on the back end, but if the Hawks lose him for say 10 games, that means he’d be out for the first five games of an opening round series. Potentially against St. Louis, or worse Los Angeles. The Blackhawks have been struggling for a while now and this play couldn’t have come at a worse time for Joel Quenneville who’s additionally without other stud D-Man Brent Seabrook, listed as day-to-day. The Blackhawks haven’t been without both defenseman in the same game in over a decade which is a big reason for their success overall.
Having Keith miss the first five or potentially more games in the playoffs could certainly mean the difference between a first round exit and another deep run into June. In regards to the game, the Hawks lost 4-1. They’re 3-5-2 in their last ten games.