Blackhawks News

Chicago Blackhawks’ Keith Resumes Skating

By Colin Likas

Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Duncan Keith had surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his knee in the middle of October. Somewhat surprisingly, Keith was present for the team’s morning skate today and looked pretty comfortable on the ice.

Keith is eligible to come off long-term injured reserve Saturday, when the Blackhawks are taking on the St. Louis Blues. It’s not clear whether or not Keith will be ready to go for that game, but if you watch the video in the above tweet, you can see he is skating at a pretty optimal speed and making cuts like he would in a game. Those are great signs for a man who is often compared to a robot or cyborg.

Keith’s stellar offseason training is partially to credit for his fast return. He is one of the better-conditioned athletes in the entire NHL, and that shows when he needs time to recover from something.

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Keith told the Chicago Sun-Times Mark Lazerus that his knee, which he had surgery on, started hurting during the Stanley Cup Final series against the Tampa Bay Lightning. Of course, he played through that pain to help the Blackhawks win the Cup, and he received the Conn Smythe trophy for his efforts. Keith said the pain subsided over the summer — not surprising considering he wasn’t skating for a while — but that it reared its ugly head once play started for the 2015-16 season.

Hopefully the procedure eliminates all pain for Keith, as the Blackhawks could really use a healthy No. 2 on the blue line. The defense has been suspect since Keith’s departure, and Brent Seabrook is the only one truly producing offensively from that area. With Keith’s return, the defense would hopefully tighten up in front of Corey Crawford and Scott Darling, both of who have had a rough go of it in net recently.

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Upon Keith’s return, it’s not set in stone who would be sent to the AHL’s Rockford IceHogs. Erik Gustafsson seems like an easy choice considering he was called up when Keith went down, but Gustafsson has actually played well in his little time with the team, while David Rundblad has remained on the sideline due to his poor play earlier in the season. Rundblad could be sent to Rockford, similar to the fate Bryan Bickell found.

Regardless of how that plays out, though, it’s great to see Keith actively skating, and skating well. His return is strongly needed by the Blackhawks, who have had trouble winning on the road and have struggled to keep the puck out of the net over the last several games.

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