Duncan Keith hopes the third time is the charm.
The 32-year-old Chicago Blackhawks defenceman spoke with the Chicago Sun-Times for the first time since being handed a six-game suspension for swinging his stick at the face of Minnesota Wild forward Charlie Coyle.
“I try to play the game hard, and for the amount of minutes I play, the games I play, I feel I play the game hard,” said Keith. “At the end of the day, I try to leave it on the ice. I’m not really focused on what I’m trying to leave out there as far as a reputation. I think everybody wants to have a reputation as a clean, honest player.
“There’s a line and a limit. It’s just being smarter and knowing that.”
His fiery on-ice demeanour has brought him much success since being drafted 54th overall in 2002. The Winnipeg native has won three Stanley Cups, a pair of Olympic gold medals, one Conn Smythe and two Norris Trophies, but his most recent infraction has led to questions about his ability to control his temper.
“Well, I think I’m going to have to (control my temper)” he said. “It’s just knowing that line. I’m a competitive person, but I don’t think that’s something that I can’t stop. I think I can stop that.”
The NHL might have been less lenient had the victim of Keith’s slash, Coyle, been injured. Coyle sported a gash on his nose, but was otherwise unaffected by the play. Coyle hasn’t missed any time and called the play a “heat of the moment thing.” Keith has since called Coyle to apologize for the incident.
“I called and left a message, and he called me back, so I was appreciative of that,” Keith said. “It shows a lot on his part and the type of guy he is. That’s about it. They’ve got a good team and they’re playing well. I wished him the best after.”