For the first time since being issued a six-game suspension, Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Duncan Keith spoke about the incident following practice on Saturday, and confirmed that he will not appeal the decision.
"It was a fast game and it was obviously you know, a reaction and one that I need to be disciplined, and, you know, we talked about that as a team," Keith said. "I think there’s a limit there, and I gotta know that and I will," he added.
Keith was suspended by the NHL for his slash Tuesday night against Minnesota Wild forward Charlie Coyle, the league’s Department of Player Safety announced Friday.
The suspension is the third of Keith’s career. He was suspended for five games in 2011 after elbowing Vancouver Canucks forward Daniel Sedin in the side of the head, and he received a one-game playoff ban for a retaliatory high stick against Los Angeles Kings forward Jeff Carter during the 2013 postseason.
That second hit perhaps played a role in the league’s decision to suspend Keith this time. Much like the Carter infraction, the Coyle hit came after Keith was hit by an opponent. Keith was upended by Coyle in the offensive zone, and as he rolled over on the ice he reached up and slashed his stick across the forward’s face, opening up a gash on the bridge of his nose that required the attention of trainers.
Keith was assessed a 10-minute match penalty for the play, which carried with it an automatic ejection from the contest and a suspension for the Blackhawks’ game Friday night against the Winnipeg Jets.
After the hit, Keith was offered an in-person hearing by DOPS, meaning that the league had the option to suspend him for six or more games. To expedite the process, Keith opted for a phone hearing instead, which took place on Friday afternoon according to the league.