Feb 11, 2014; Sochi, RUSSIA; Canada defenseman Duncan Keith (2) during an ice hockey training session for the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games at Bolshoy Arena. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Which Blackhawks Olympian Could Have The Biggest Hangover?

The Blackhawks returned to practice this week. Two Olympians Michal Rozsival and Marian Hossa took part in practice earlier than expected. The eight other Blackhawks Olympians did not part take in practice and probably will not return to the ice until Wednesday.

With the Olympics taking a physical toll on players, I decided to share my choice for the biggest Olympic hangover. Now the popular choice would be Patrick Kane or Marian Hossa. My choice is going to be a little different. My choice for the player to suffer from the biggest Olympic hangover is: Duncan Keith.

Keith is my choice for one main reason, his playing time! The amount of playing time has to catch up with Keith at some point. Keith has averaged 25:18 minutes per game for his career during the regular season. Keith has played in 666 NHL games regular season games and 74 Stanley Cup Playoff games in his career. His minutes increased from 25:18 minutes per game to 28:37 minutes per game.

This season is a special case, after playing a compressed lockout short season in 2012-13. Keith went onto to play in 22 playoff games. His minutes on the ice jumped from 24:07 to 28:37 in the playoffs.  After winning the Stanley Cup, Keith took part in the shortest offseason in NHL history. Keith now has played in 59 regular season games and now six Olympic hockey games.This is extremely high for a thirty old player, even one as physically gifted as Duncan Keith.

Keith ranks 14th amoung defenseman in the NHL in total ice time this season. Only six defenseman with higher minutes than Keith played in the Olympics and now of those defenseman played in the Stanley Cup Finals last season. Drew Doughty who ranks 4th in the NHL this season in minutes and played in the Olympics, yet he only got to the Western Conference Finals. Keith once again has more minutes than most defenseman in the NHL over the last two years.

This season Keith added in Olympic Hockey games to his schedule.  The Olympic Hockey games were at a higher intensity than some regular season games. The intensity, the journey, the pressure, and the amount of playing times, Keith has been racking up has to be taking a toll on him. In my mind if he is going to suffer any sort of hangover, it will be this season. Keith commented on this Olympic experience:

‘‘These pressure-type games are only going to make us better as players,’’ he said. ‘‘I look back in 2010, and it made me a better player playing the gold-medal game and games like that. . . . You learn to deal with that pressure and those tight situations where the next goal [means] the game could be over. Sometimes guys can get nervous, whereas other guys rise to the
occasion. They learn to deal with that pressure of playing those big games and not panicking and knowing they’ll come through in the end.’’ Keith quote courtesy of the Chicago Suntimes.

So now after playing half around the world, Keith must go back to playing for the Blackhawks. Who could fault Keith from suffering a little Olympic hangover? Or at the very least, a little jet lag?

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