Q&A with Chicago Blackhawks D-man Duncan Keith

Duncan Keith answer questions from the Western News, including who are the guys he likes watching and what it's like to face Sid the Kid

WN-What was it like for you to win the Norris Trophy for the second time in your career?

DK-It’s a very special feeling. I think it’s such a prestigious trophy that not a lot of guys win. Let’s face it, I wouldn’t be winning that if I didn’t have good teammates and a good defence partner in Brent Seabrook. I certainly know that the importance of having great teammates ….  help you win not only Stanley Cups, but individual awards as well. I look at the list of names on that trophy over the years, a lot of guys I grew up looking at and idolizing. I’m proud to have my name alongside of them.

WN-Is there a favourite defenceman you had growing up?

DK-Yeah, you know what, there really wasn’t one in particular guy. I would say there was a group of guys whether it was Rob Blake, Brian Leetch, Ray Bourque, Paul Coffey. Those type of players, Chris Pronger. I think once I got to the NHL, we were in Detroit’s division, and we ended up playing them so many times. Nicklas Lidstrom just kept winning all the Norrises. I really thought a lot of him and watched the way he played and tried to implement a lot of the things that he did out on the ice into my game.

WN-Do you think you have been able to do that so far?

DK-Well, I think it’s always a work in progress. Any time you are trying to be like Nik Lidstrom, but, you know certainly I want to just keep on getting better and keep on improving. There’s guys in the league even nowadays you can learn from. You are always trying to learn and you are always trying to get better.

WN-How much better do you think you are now compared to your first Norris Trophy win?

DK- I think you mature a lot. The more games you play, you gain that experience. I don’t think you win those awards without good teammates. Whether you are being nominated and just to be nominated or win the award, I think you need the help of your teammates. I have certainly had that over the years. Since my first win in 2010 with the Norris, I have learned a lot about my game and you mature. They always say defenceman get better as they get older. I believe that’s the case. Still, have to be there physically, but mentally, you gain that experience and it allows you to have a little more poise. Just being in those situations out on the ice over and over. You know what that situation is, how to play it. It’s a matter of executing.

WN-Who are some of the guys you enjoy watching that you play against?

DK-There is a bunch. I like the Canadian guys that I played with, (P.K.) Subban, (Shea) Weber, (Drew) Doughty, (Alex) Pietrangelo, (Jay) Bouwmeester, they are all fun to watch. Erik Karlsson is certainly dynamic offensively. There are forwards that are always fun to play against and watch too. We have a couple on our team, Patrick Sharp and Marian Hossa and Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane. I get to see those guys on a day-to-day basis. Guys I play against, Pavel Datsyuk, obviously the usual suspects, (Sidney) Crosby, (Alex) Ovechkin. Anytime you play those guys you are out on the ice, you have to be aware.

WN-What’s it like to go up against Crosby?

DK-I think you have to have a lot of respect for him and those top players, you just have to understand that, you gotta be on your toes. Paying attention to those little details of being good defensively and limiting their time and space. I think every good forward likes to have that time to get the puck. Get the head up and make plays, try to limit their chances. Those type of guys like Crosby are so good, they are going to get chances throughout the course of the game. It’s just a matter of trying to limit them sometimes and keep them off the power play.

WN-What do you think of how the Blackhawks team is looking going into a new season?

DK-I think it’s good. I think we got a lot of the same players. For the most part we have been able to keep a lot of the same guys from last year and the year before. I think that’s what you need, continuity from year to year of having the same players. Knowing each other out there. Off the ice helps as well. I think we’re all excited. We know we were close last year. One goal away from going back to the final. It’s just a matter of getting over that little hump there and being able to push through and get to the final again. I think we know we have a lot of talent on our team, a lot of skill. There is probably a few things that we could do differently, a little bit better. On the whole I think we are excited about our team.

WN-What has your summer been like?

DK-It’s been nice. Always want to take time to relax in the off-season. Play so many games during the season, sometimes it can wear you out where you just need a break. During a long season there isn’t any time. It’s nice to spend a few weeks after the season, just get away, forget about hockey, then slowly get the mind coming around to hockey again. You don’t want to get too far out of shape. I usually give it a couple of weeks and then I’m back in the gym. I found if I give it  more than two weeks, then I don’t like trying to get back into shape again.

WN-It gets harder, I guess?

DK-It gets harder and it gets to be a pretty big grind if you let your body go. I just assume to stay in shape all year round. You can still stay in shape and be active.

WN-What are some of the things you like to do?

DK-I like to spend time back here in Penticton. It’s nice, it’s a small little town. Good friendly people here. It’s nice to see some family members. I don’t always get to see my family. Obviously, got a son (Colton) now. It’s nice to spend time with him. During the season you are so busy, we are on the road a lot. You don’t always get to see him as much as you can. It’s nice in the off-season where you got that time to spend it with him. He seems to be a pretty active little guy. He really enjoys shooting the ball around. It’s kind of fun seeing that. He’s got pretty good co-ordination.

WN-What are your impressions of the Ice Bucket Challenge?

DK-I hear about it. i think anytime you are able raise money or raise awareness for a charity or something, raising awareness for diseases and certain things like that, i think it’s great. As NHL players, we all try to realize we are in a position to help raise awareness to certain things. bring attention to certain causes. we try to do that as much as we can. hadn’t been challenge. i don’t really have Twitter. I think that seems to be an Internet thing. My foundation has it. They run the Twitter account. Ive seen some of the guys doing it. it seems pretty funny. I saw Paul Bisonnette’s.

WN-Any teams you figure might surprise fans at all?

DK-I don’t know. I think there is so much parity in the league now. It can be any team. To me there are certain teams that have a good core of players. They are always going to be good. The way the league is now, a team can be out of the playoffs and bad one year and can turn around pretty quick. It happened with us. We were out of the playoffs for my first three years. Next thing you know we made playoffs and went to the Western Conference Finals. There is lots of good young teams with some good players. It’s a matter of making that step.

WN-Do you follow your old junior teams, the Kelowna Rockets and Penticton Vees (Panthers)?

DK-I do. I keep in touch with a lot of the Rockets. Bruce Hamilton and Gavin Hamilton. Lorne Frey. Great people up there. I saw Fred Harbinson the other day down here in Penticton when I was hanging out there. I think they are both great organizations. It just shows you the type of players that they have been able to produce. Both teams over the years. I think that’s a credit to not only the coaches and trainers there, but obviously the management and ownership. That’s where it all starts.