Rob McLaughlin couldn’t be more proud of his friend Duncan Keith.
After taking in Games 3 and 4 of the Stanley Cup playoffs in Chicago with his son Ethan, McLaughlin watched on TV Monday night as Keith, a former Penticton Panther (1999-2001), clinched his third Stanley Cup in six years with the Chicago Blackhawks Monday. Keith and the Blackhawks defeated the Tampa Bay Lightning 2-0 in Chicago in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final. Keith scored the winner, his third goal of the post-season. All three of his goals were winners.
Seeing Keith named the Conn Smythe Trophy winner was playoff MVP gave McLaughlin a great feeling.
“I was very, very proud of him. It was well deserved,” said McLaughlin, who coached Keith from ages 14 to 16 in Penticton. “I don’t think there is anybody else, really. I know they talked about (Lightning defenceman Victor) Hedman and all the rest of them. Even if Chicago lost it, I’d still look at Duncan being the Conn Smythe winner, just think that what else can you do for your team? With what he has done throughout the whole playoffs.”
Corey Masisak of NHL.com reported that Keith became the ninth defenceman to win playoff MVP and averaged more than 31 minutes of ice time in 23 games. After the first round, he led all players in ice-time and logged 715 minutes, 37 seconds. His 21 points tied for 10th-most by a defenceman in NHL playoff history.
“I think Duncan’s in a class by himself,” said McLaughlin. “You can talk about all around defenceman, he truly is in my opinion. His hockey IQ I think is off the chart. He always plays against the top players. His ability to move the puck, he doesn’t panic.”
Keith told NHL.com’s Brian Hedger “It feels so great” winning.
“You want to keep being a part of these things. You don’t get these awards without being on great teams with great players, and I’m just proud to be a part of this group of guys who cares so much and do whatever it takes.”
Keith’s teammate and Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews said, “it’s about time” of Keith being named MVP.
“We all know he’s going to go down as one of the great players to play the game,” said Toews to Masisak. “In our room, we knew that before the playoffs, but he keeps proving it time and time again. So I couldn’t be happier for a guy like that. It’s really incredible.”
Keith scored with 2:47 remaining in the second period to give the Blackhawks a 1-0 lead. Kane gathered a pass along the right wall in the Lightning zone and waited for help. He then threaded a pass through two defenders to Keith in the middle of the ice. Keith’s first shot was stopped, but he got past Lightning centre Cedric Paquette to bury his rebound over Ben Bishop’s glove.
“Right from the first (playoffs) game against Nashville, I saw a different level of hockey (from Duncan) that I’m not sure I’ve ever seen on my team,” said Blackhawks forward Brad Richards to Masisak. “Just how he kept doing it and never showed any signs of fatigue. He’s probably the best player I’ve ever seen. It was unbelievable what he did out there.”
“That guy was unbelievable,” said goaltender Corey Crawford to the Canadian Press. “I don’t think I’ve seen anyone play any better. Whenever we needed a big goal or a big play it seemed like he made it.”
As for McLaughlin’s trip to Chicago, he wanted Ethan to experience the Mad House on Madison.
“He couldn’t believe it. Just the atmosphere of Chicago and the energy in that building,” said McLaughlin. “If you have never gone to a game in chicago, you want to experience it. Not taking anything away from the Canadian arenas or anything like that. Being in Chicago, just the energy in that building is amazing.”
McLaughlin could imagine the Mad House being electrifying on Monday.
“All the people outside, even with all the flash flooding that happened, the fans were everywhere,” he said.