Already jonesing for more hockey? Ease the early symptoms of NHL withdrawal with Sportsnet magazine’s Stanley Cup Final special digital edition. Read the inside story of Chicago’s historic win, and enjoy more than 100 photos and videos.
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By Kristina Rutherford
There is a lot of hotel time for the visitors, a lot of rest time. And when you’re that hotel, housing the potential Stanley Cup champions on the road, you’re rolling out the red carpet. The Blackhawks stay at the Epicurean, where you might find Kane lying out in the sun, getting a bit of a burn. The restaurant here features a small but high-end menu. For this team, that menu has expanded. They’ve brought in a boatload of meat—lots of chicken, lots of steak—and it’s disappearing at an alarming rate. So are the leafy greens. Toews and Kane and others drink bottles of what looks like green sludge. It’s a combination of about every green vegetable you can think of; spinach, kale and broccoli are just the start. It has a smoothie consistency because it’s run through a strainer. And if you have a swig, you’ll find it gross and tasteless. It’s dying for salt, pepper or something. And the Chicago Blackhawks drink gallons of the stuff.
Maybe that’s why Keith never looks tired. The career Blackhawks defenceman plays half the game most nights, and right now he has the best plus-minus rating in these playoffs, and leads in assists, too. He has never run a marathon, but he ought to. The Winnipeg-born 31-year-old can’t talk to the press without fielding questions about how in shape he is. Andrew Shaw, Team Antagonizer, says a couple guys on the team see Keith “as a freak.” Keith seems pretty unimpressed about the fact he can log 29 minutes a night and not appear gassed, or about the fact he makes breaking out of the zone look easy and turns the power-play unit into what looks like an offensive onslaught at times. He sits in his stall, shin pads and pants still on, white socks covering his feet. He talks really quietly.
Hedman, the leader of Tampa’s defensive corps, comes off as similarly unimpressed with himself. But the difference between Keith and Tampa’s top minute-muncher most nights is that Hedman will tell you he’s tired. Not Keith. He shrugs it off. And while Cooper often rolls with seven defencemen, Quenneville relies heavily on his top four. Especially this guy with the red beard and the curly reddish hair, the guy everybody’s talking about.