Duncan Keith’s hearing puts playoff status in jeopardy

Jared Spurgeon, Erik Haula and Nino Niederreiter scored in the third period and the Minnesota Wild defeated the Chicago Blackhawks for their sixth straight win.

Chicago Blackhawks defenceman Duncan Keith has been offered an in-person hearing with the NHL’s department of player safety to discuss his high-sticking of Minnesota Wild forward Charlie Coyle.

Because Keith’s hearing was offered in-person, his potential suspension could exceed the five regular-season games remaining in Chicago’s schedule.

Keith’s availability for Game 1 of the defending champions opening-round playoff series is now in jeopardy.

“We’ve missed guys all season long, so I’m not worrying about hypotheticals,” Chicago coach Joel Quenneville told reporters.

The two-time Norris Trophy champ and reigning Conn Smythe Trophy winner was handed a match penalty for the stick-swinging incident, which occurred midway through the first period of Chicago’s 4-1 loss to Minnesota Tuesday night. Watch the play:

Keith is not officially considered a repeat offender by the league because he has a clean slate over the last 18 months, but the No. 1 defenceman does have a history of egregious offences.

In 2012, Keith was assessed a five-game suspension for a brazen elbow to the head of Vancouver Canucks star Daniel Sedin.

More relevant to the Coyle play is what Keith did in 2013. During Game 3 of the Western Conference final against the Los Angeles Kings, Keith was suspended one game for this retaliatory high stick to the face of Jeff Carter.

Chicago has clinched a post-season berth but is still battling for home-ice advantage in Round 1. The Blackhawks are currently without their No. 1 goaltender, Corey Crawford, who is dealing with an upper-body injury.

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