In calm, measured tones Saturday, Blackhawks defenseman Duncan Keith took responsibility for not acting that way Tuesday when he swung his stick while lying on the ice and connected with the face of Wild center Charlie Coyle.
Saturday was the day for Keith and the Blackhawks to begin moving on from the ugly and bloody incident, which brought Keith a six-game suspension that will expire after the Hawks skate in their first playoff game. As such, Keith said he “accepted” the league’s decision and would not appeal it, and he said he called Coyle to apologize for the infraction and for causing a gash on Coyle’s nose.
“It was obviously a reaction and one that I need to be disciplined [for],” Keith said. “We talked about that as a team and things like that. Obviously I think there’s a limit there and I got to know that. I will.”
This wasn’t the first infraction that caused Keith to lose his temper and commit a violent act on the ice that got him in trouble with the league.
Keith was suspended for a game during the Western Conference finals in 2013 for high-sticking the Kings’ Jeff Carter, and in 2012 he was suspended five games for elbowing the Canucks’ Daniel Sedin.
Keith said he will work on preventing similar incidents in the future.
“I’m going to have to,” Keith said. “It’s just knowing that line, and I feel I’m a competitive person but I don’t think that’s something that I can’t stop. I think I can stop that. Move on and move forward and when I come back be as good as I can be.”
Keith called Coyle to apologize, but Keith’s call went to voice mail. He left a message and Coyle called him back to discuss the incident.
“I was appreciative of that,” Keith said. “It says a lot about the player and type of guy he is. That’s about it. They’ve got a good team and they’re playing well. I wished him the best after.
“It’s a dangerous play and I was glad to see he came back and it wasn’t worse.”
Keith, the reigning Conn Smythe Trophy winner, is also hoping for the best when the Hawks inevitably take the ice without him in Game 1 of their first-round playoff series. He is confident the Hawks will be able to win without him.
“You don’t want to put the team in that situation,” Keith said. “That’s the tough part, but I know we’ve got a lot of great defensemen and we’ve got a good team in here, that we have experience.”
A silver lining in this mess for the minutes-gobbling Keith is that he can rest his body and tune up for a potentially long playoff run, but one that will begin without him.
“You can use the time as best as you can, I guess, to try and feel as good as I can when I come back,” he said.