Duncan Keith says he needs to be smarter, apologized to Coyle

Chicago Blackhawks defenceman Duncan Keith comments on being suspended for stick swinging incident.

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.”

Keith has previously been disciplined for an elbow to the head of Vancouver Canucks forward Daniel Sedin, and a high-stick on Jeff Carter of the Los Angeles Kings.

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.”

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