The Chicago Blackhawks will be down a two-time Norris Trophy-winning defenseman when their first-round Stanley Cup playoff series begins next month.
The NHL on Friday suspended Duncan Keith six games — comprising Chicago’s final five regular-season games and its playoff opener — for his vicious slash to the face of Minnesota Wild forward Charlie Coyle.
“It is important to note that Keith is in perfect control of his stick at all times, and this (slashing) motion is made intentionally, not recklessly,” a spokesman for the NHL’s Department of Player Safety said in a video announcing the suspension.
“This is not a case where two players are battling for position or puck control and a stick rides up suddenly. This is not a defensive high stick. It is also not a case in which a player who is off-balance recklessly swings his stick in an uncontrolled manner with an unexpected result. Keith is looking directly at his opponent, winds his arm back and then whips it forward in a chopping motion aimed at Coyle’s face.”
This is the third suspension of Keith’s career. His first cost him five games in 2012, and his second sidelined him for one game during the 2013 playoffs.
The Blackhawks, who lost 4-1 to the Wild on Tuesday night, entered Friday in third place in the Central Division, six points behind the St. Louis Blues and eight back of the Western Conference-leading Dallas Stars. The Blackhawks will host the Boston Bruins on Sunday afternoon.
Thumbnail photo via Jerome Miron/USA TODAY Sports Images
Thumbnail photo via Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Duncan Keith