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Seabrook, Keith are alike in more than playing style

Sunday, 07.18.2010 / 10:00 PM / Summer with Stanley

By Mike G. Morreale - NHL.com Staff Writer

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Seabrook, Keith are alike in more than playing style
Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook are defense partners with the Chicago Blackhawks, but they're alike in more than just the way they play the game.
PENTICTON, B.C. -- Brent Seabrook and Duncan Keith seem to have that telekinetic power that all the top defensive pairings have throughout the history of the NHL.

Since being paired exclusively over the past couple of seasons by Chicago Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville, Seabrook and Keith have become one dynamite couple on the ice. The twosome is even referred to by one name, "KeithBrook." Each has the ability to execute the transition to offense with relative ease while still policing his own end.

At 6-foot-3, 218 pounds, Seabrook offers a bit more size and muscle along the boards. But Keith, who was at one point thought too small (6-foot-1) to play the position, is extremely deft at moving the puck with great speed and awareness.

They actually push each other.

"If I'm not playing my best and he plays great, I don't want to be holding him down by playing bad. I want to be good and he wants to be good but, at the end of the day, we both respect each other." -- Duncan Keith on defensive partner Brent Seabrook

"If I'm not playing my best and he plays great, I don't want to be holding him down by playing bad," said Keith, winner of the 2010 Norris Trophy. "I want to be good and he wants to be good but, at the end of the day, we both respect each other. I think he's a different type of player in terms of the physical ability he has. He's a different type of guy who can do things I can't do, and I might have a little more quickness than he has but together our combination has been good the last couple of years."

Gary Seabrook, Brent's dad, can sense that competitive fire within each player.

"They're both competitive guys and they work together but are tough on each other," he said. "They want to be the best they can be as a pairing, and they push each other a lot."

It isn't just on the ice, either. They stand for the same moral values, have a fantastic family support group and will do anything to give back to the community within which they were schooled as youngsters.

Such was the case this past weekend, when both players had 24 hours with the ultimate prize -- the Stanley Cup. Seabrook had first dibs as the Cup was delivered to his parents' home in Delta early on Friday morning. Keith followed on Saturday in the cozy community of Penticton -- retrieving the Cup at the airport just moments after it had touched down.

When asked if he thought Keith would reach out to him to get the quick scoop on the big prize late Friday night, Seabrook laughed before denying any such exchange.

"Dunc's his own man and I'm sure he'll do his own thing," Seabrook told NHL.com. "I'm sure his party will be great and his day will be great. I'm just excited to call all the boys next week to find out what they actually did do."

Oddly enough, a quick scan of the Cup-day itineraries of Seabrook and Keith revealed a similar game plan. Gee, what a surprise.

Both days included time with mom, dad and family members, autographs and pictures with local kids and making a profound impact on the seniors via a visit to the nearby hospital.

"I've seen the Cup lots of times in the paper and on TV, but to see it first-hand with one of the fellows who took part in winning it, is really special," said 100-year-old George Mohr after Keith visited with him at Penticton Regional Hospital.

Teresa Cooper, executive director of the Delta Hospital Foundation, turned a bit emotional when speaking about Seabrook's visit with the senior citizens and patients.

"I think if you ask anybody, the sense of community here and the passion to serve the community are what bring us so close together," she said. "The community even within the hospital is fantastic. Having someone from the community who's accomplished so much, come in and share that sense of community with us is just amazing. There are people who he has seen already ... This will be one of shining moments of their life. It's overwhelming and just amazing."

Both players showcased not only the Cup, but also their Olympic gold medals as members of Team Canada. They didn't get much of an opportunity to strut their stuff as a pair during the tournament, but it made no difference. Both each played their usual effective roles to help the Canadians to their second Olympic gold in eight years.

Both players are disappointed with the recent changes within the roster, losing friends with whom they've experienced both the lows and highs, but the core remains intact, including the "KeithBrook" connection.

"It's been great relationship," Seabrook said. "We're both good buddies, and on the ice, we get into it a little bit and we both want the same thing. We're out there to win and all we want is that but it's tough sometimes. We get on each other's case, but it's all for the best."

Both players completed their fifth full season in the League and, as you might expect, finished No. 1 and 2 in ice time per game for the regular season and in the playoffs. Keith was tops in 82 regular-season games at 26:35 and first in the postseason at 28:11.

"I can say he's my best buddy and I've been playing alongside him for five years now so it goes back to when he was 17 and first drafted and I was 19 and at the prospects camp," Keith said. "I think we started to become good buddies. We lived together downtown in a condo and had good times there hanging out and having fun."

The good times continued when they had their day with the Cup.

"There's something so glistening about the Cup," Delta mayor Lois Jackson told NHL.com. "People have said what they think it should or shouldn't look like, but I think it's absolutely spectacular. We were very lucky to have the Memorial Cup here a couple of years ago, and we had pictures of that, but this is something else all together. All these children here are thinking one day their dream will come true. To have that accomplishment makes you feel pretty humble."

Penticton mayor Dan Ashton had similar feelings. In his 10 1/2 years on council, in fact, never before has he seen a key to the city handed out to anyone -- but Keith changed all that.

"The thing is, when we get the recognition that Duncan has given us (in Penticton) and when we get the opportunity to present to a young man like Duncan who means so much to us, we're going all out for it so it's an honor for us to do it," Ashton told NHL.com.

Make no mistake, Seabrook and Keith make an impression not only on the ice, but off it as well.

Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mike_morreale
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