Author: Jason Brough

Duncan Keith, Ben Bishop

No doubt about it: Duncan Keith wins the Conn Smythe Trophy


CHICAGO — No debate necessary. Duncan Keith has been awarded the Conn Smythe Trophy as the MVP of the 2015 NHL playoffs.

Keith scored the Stanley Cup-winning goal Monday at the United Center, capping a spectacular postseason run for the 31-year-old defenseman, who finished the playoffs with three goals and 18 assists.

Keith’s 21 points were by far the most of any defenseman, seven more than Tampa Bay’s Victor Hedman.

But it was the time he logged on a depleted Blackhawks blue line that drew the most acclaim. In 23 games, he never played less than 24:05. In total, he spent over 700 minutes on the ice, almost 100 more minutes than second-place Hedman, who played in three more games.

Keith’s goal tonight perfectly illustrated his offensive abilities. Jumping into the rush as he does so effectively, he took a perfect pass from Patrick Kane at the Lightning blue line, wristed a shot that was saved but not controlled by Ben Bishop, then swooped around Cedric Paquette to snap the rebound high past the sprawled Lightning goalie.

A defenseman has received the Conn Smythe Trophy on just 10 occasions since it was first awarded in 1965. Keith is the first defenseman to be recognized since Scott Niedermayer was for the Ducks in 2007.

Could Kessel block the Leafs from trading him?

Buffalo Sabres v Toronto Maple Leafs

Even if the Toronto Maple Leafs are intent on trading Phil Kessel, they may be challenged by a limited no-trade clause that’s believed to allow Kessel to submit a list of eight teams to which he can be sent.

From TSN/NBC insider Bob McKenzie:

Prior to the trade deadline, TSN reported those eight teams were believed to be: Boston; Chicago; Los Angeles; Minnesota; Montreal; New York Rangers; Philadelphia; and Pittsburgh.

But that doesn’t preclude the possibility of the Leafs finding a suitable deal with a team not on the list and asking the player to amend the list. Also, with each new contract year, it’s believed a new list can be submitted by the player so the list can change from year to year. The contract year expires June 30.

What’s interesting about Kessel’s list is that all eight teams are currently facing significant cap challenges. For any one of them to acquired a player who’s signed through 2021-22 with a cap hit of $8 million, they’d need to shed some serious salary in the process.

As McKenzie notes, the Leafs don’t necessarily have to trade Kessel to one of those eight teams. Kessel’s list could change. Or, he could just waive his NTC.

But if Kessel is intent on staying in Toronto — and remember, he only signed that contract a couple of years ago — he could theoretically make it tough for the Leafs to get rid of him.

Or, at the very least, he could make it tough for them to get much in return.

“I signed for eight years last season. I love Toronto,” Kessel said in April, per “The fans have been great to me. I love the guys and I love playing here. So, hopefully I’m back.”

Related: Dreger: ‘In Kessel’s case, I firmly believe he’s going to be traded’


Kane trying to not let Hedman get in his head

2015 NHL Stanley Cup Final - Game Four

CHICAGO — With no goals and just one assist in the first five games of the Stanley Cup Final, Patrick Kane’s offensive production has been notably absent for the Chicago Blackhawks.

One very good reason for that is that Victor Hedman, the Lightning defenseman who’s been a two-way force all throughout the playoffs, no more than in this series.

“He’s a special player,” Kane said this morning. “Not only is he big (and) has a good stick, he’s smart, he’s a great skater. He seems to have all the tools to lock someone down. He’s definitely been impressive throughout the series.”

In Game 5 on Saturday, Kane spent 9:17 of his 15:48 in total ice time with Hedman out there as well.

At home tonight in Game 6, Joel Quenneville should be able to get Kane away from Hedman a bit more. The Blackhawks’ coach has confidence his star forward will come through.

“Kaner, eventually he’ll find a way,” said Quenneville. “That’s what makes him the competitor he is.”

Regardless of the match-ups, Kane doesn’t want to overthink the situation.

“I think when you’re on the ice, you gotta be aware who’s out there, especially for defensive purposes,” he said.

“But sometimes when you think too much about playing against one certain guy, it can backfire on you a little bit. So we’re just worried about playing our game, not worried about what he’s going to do out there too much.”

Kane by series
Nashville: 2 goals, 5 assists in 6 games
Minnesota: 5 goals, 1 assist in 4 games
Anaheim: 3 goals, 4 assists in 7 games
Tampa Bay: 0 goals, 1 assist in 5 games

Ticket prices through the roof for chance to witness Blackhawks’ first Cup win on home ice since 1938

Stanley Cup Finals - Game 4: Toronto Maple Leafs v Chicago Blackhawks

CHICAGO — Considering the Blackhawks haven’t hoisted the Stanley Cup on home ice since 1938, ticket prices for tonight’s game are predictably through the roof.

Over at secondary seller StubHub, the cheapest ticket is priced at $806.89, and that’s to stand at the top of the United Center the whole game. To sit in Row 16 of the upper deck, the price is $1,249.50.

The most expensive ticket, to sit front row between the blue lines, is listed at $25,000. Though, remember, that doesn’t mean anyone will actually pay that much.

Chicago defenseman Brent Seabrook reiterated yesterday that it was going to be a challenge for the Blackhawks to stay focused on the “task at hand.”

“It’s not just another game, but that’s the way we got to try to approach it,” he said. “It’s a huge game.

“Tomorrow there’s going to be a lot of things going on throughout the day, morning, afternoon and night. Lots of things going on throughout the game, too, different battles and things like that. We’ve got to be prepared for the game, the task at hand.”

P.S. — If you’re wondering about that image, from left to right, that’s Jack Shill, Carl Voss, Cully Dahlstrom and Harold “Mush” March after the ‘Hawks beat the Leafs in Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final on April 12, 1938 at Chicago Stadium.

Related: It’s ‘easy to daydream,’ but ‘Hawks need to stay focused

It’s ‘easy to daydream,’ but ‘Hawks need to stay focused


TAMPA — They’ve hoisted it in Philadelphia and they’ve hoisted it in Boston. But one thing this current version of the Chicago Blackhawks has never done is raise the Stanley Cup at home in front of their rowdy fans at the United Center.

They’ll have an opportunity to do just that on Monday.

“Never been in this spot,” said coach Joel Quenneville after Saturday’s 2-1 victory over the Lightning at Amalie Arena. “I’m sure it will be crazy over the next two days in town. The buzz will be off the charts.”

The challenge, of course, will be to stay focused. The Lightning have been great on the road in these playoffs. Nobody’s expecting them to roll over.

“It’s easy to daydream sometimes and all of a sudden completely snap out of it when you’re thinking of winning the Cup and hoisting the Cup and all the things that come with it,” said ‘Hawks captain Jonathan Toews.

“We’ve gotta try to get those thoughts out of our head and just focus on the task.”

History shows that teams in the Blackhawks’ position usually end up winning:

But then again…

Most recently, the Boston Bruins trailed the Vancouver Canucks 3-2 in the 2011 final before winning the final two games.

And, of course, back in 2004, the Lightning themselves trailed the Flames 3-2 before taking Game 6 in Calgary and returning home to hoist their first and only Cup in franchise history.

“We’ve been in this position before just a month and a half ago in the Detroit series,” added Lightning coach Jon Cooper. “This team has found a way. That’s why we are where we are right now.”

In the closest Cup final in NHL history, where each game has been decided by one goal and there have been three victories by the road team, the Blackhawks may have gained the advantage Saturday, but this remains anyone’s series.