Tag: Duncan Keith

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Can the Bruins’ defense get up to speed?


It sounds like the Boston Bruins were taking notes when they watched mobile defensemen Duncan Keith and Victor Hedman square off in the 2015 Stanley Cup Final.

GM Don Sweeney isn’t asking his group to impersonate Bobby Orr next season, but it sounds like he’s asking for a more active approach, as the Boston Globe’s Fluto Shinzawa reports in this interesting piece.

Most obviously, he wants defensemen to skate a bit more with the puck in transition, easing things on the Bruins’ forwards.

“I think they have to,” Sweeney said. “At times, we probably got a little bit too stationary on our breakouts. We need to be in motion a little bit. That means our forwards will be in motion a little bit, because teams were able to smother the walls, pinch, and pre-pinch.”

Shinzawa provides a few additional sensory details about how such a modified scheme might work, at least ideally:

The tweaks are meant to shift the danger level away from the net. Defensemen will be more active, perhaps up the ice and closer to the walls. Forwards will not have to retreat as far to funnel pucks into favorable real estate. There will be greater challenges to zone entries, similar to how MBTA police close down on fare evaders. The goal, as Sweeney likes to say, is to create anxiety for opponents up the ice.

Let’s be honest, though: it’s reasonable to wonder if the Bruins really boast the personnel to make such a modernization work.

(This idea also turns the knife in a little deeper when it comes to losing Dougie Hamilton.)

Looking at the structure of this team, is it better to try to keep up with the Joneses or merely try to do what you do best? After all, there’s always the possibility that Claude Julien, Zdeno Chara and David Krejci will see better days after a bumpy season (which featured serious injury issues for Chara and Krejci).

Striving for a more modern approach is understandable, but sometimes sports teams lose their identity and gain little in return by trying to dance to the beat of someone else’s drum.

Either way, it’s an intriguing development to ponder in 2015-16. The full article is well worth a read, by the way.

(H/T to Kukla’s Korner)

Duncan Keith on ‘extremely difficult’ year off the ice, from divorce to Sharp rumors


From a hockey standpoint, this past year was incredible for Duncan Keith. The same can’t be said for the Chicago Blackhawks defenseman’s off-the-ice life, though.

Keith spoke candidly about raising his son after going through a divorce – and the rumors that surfaced regarding former teammate Patrick Sharp – in an interview with the Chicago Tribune’s David Haugh.

“I’m not going to lie: It has been a long year and extremely difficult,” Keith said. “I know there was a lot of talk throughout the year regarding Sharpie and that was all a complete fabrication as well. My divorce had nothing to do with anything except what was between me and Kelly-Rae, and that’s where I’d like to keep it.”

The 32-year-old* explained that dealing with the tough situation meant finding a sanctuary in the form of “turning the switch to hockey.”

Just about anyone would agree that the results were stupendous: an All-Star Game appearance, that memorable Conn Smythe run and his third career Stanley Cup victory. Sometimes anecdotal accomplishments stand out to people as much as anything else, and Keith’s heavy-minute iron man routine in the postseason likely made many lasting impressions.

It’s not just about the personal glory, though, as the elite blueliner pondered the connections he’s made. Keith explained that Sharp ranks along with Brent Seabrook as “one of his two best friends in hockey.” He seemed wistful about the departures of Sharp, Johnny Oduya and Brandon Saad.

“Anytime you play with someone for a long time you’re going to develop chemistry, a bond and a friendship and I was really close with those three guys,” Keith said. “Sharpie, I played with for 10 years. It’s tough to say goodbye …”

These tough times serve as a reminder that summers aren’t always just for recovering from the physical turmoil of a long season; they’re also an opportunity for players to see their families when they need them the most.

The full article is a great read, so check it out here.

* – His birthday was on Thursday, when that Chicago Tribune story came out.

Brandon Saad brings championship experience to Blue Jackets


He’s only 22 years old. Yet twice already in his young career, Brandon Saad has hoisted the Stanley Cup as a member of the Chicago Blackhawks.

Traded to Columbus on Tuesday, Saad officially signed a six-year, $36 million deal with the Blue Jackets on Friday.

Speaking to reporters in a conference call, Saad said he was “pretty certain” during the last few days since the blockbuster trade that a deal would get done with the Blue Jackets.

Despite his young age, he brings championship experience to a franchise that has made the playoffs only twice in its history.

Tuesday’s trade marked the end of Saad’s tenure in Chicago, a hockey market that has undergone a revival in the last 10 years and celebrated three championships in six years with the nucleus of Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook.

Saad believes his time in Chicago has been vital to the evolution of his career. He scored twice in the Stanley Cup Final, including the winner in Game 4. The Blackhawks never looked back from there.

“Just the experience of being there and going on deep playoff runs and being able to win … it’s really helped my game grow,” he said.

“It’s really incredible for my career. It’s really helped me progress along and I can’t thank them enough.”

It has already been talked about that Saad, coming off a career best 23 goals and 52 points this past season in Chicago, could play on the wing on a line with 22-year-old center Ryan Johansen, who also established a career best in points with 71.

“I’m not sure who I’m going to be playing with and we’ll deal with that when it comes but they’ve got a lot of talented guys and I know playing against them, for how hard they work and the type of system, they’re tough to play against,” said Saad, adding he’s played mostly on the left wing during his NHL career, but is familiar on the right side, too.

“With that talent and skill on top of that, it makes them lethal and I’m happy to be a part of the team now.”