On Oct. 13, 2018, the Blackhawks honored Duncan Keith as he skated in his 1,000th NHL game
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Duncan Keith eschews conversations about himself, but he had no place to hide on Oct. 13, 2018, before playing his 1,000th game with the Blackhawks.
Patrick Sharp and Brent Seabrook presented him with a silver stick. Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane unveiled a painting of Keith in action. His mother, Jean, joined red carpet dignitaries at the United Center, where Chairman Rocky Wirtz and President & CEO John McDonough gifted Keith with a trip to her native England.
The plan would be for Duncan to take his best pal, son Colton, who took the pressure off Dad by speaking on a video tribute. Duncan would talk after the Blackhawks engaged the St. Louis Blues, longtime rivals who respectfully witnessed the ceremony from the visitors' bench.
"Emotional," admitted Keith later. "To have family, friends and teammates there, a lot of people who make sacrifices along the way and supported me. I'm proud, but 1,000 is just a number."
It is a number, however, exceeded by a legendary few in franchise history. Stan Mikita with 1,396 tops the list, followed by Bobby Hull and Eric Nesterenko. On the very evening Keith was cited, Seabrook passed Bob Murray for fourth with 1,009. On Keith's night, he partnered with Seabrook for the opening faceoff, a stellar pairing throughout the Blackhawks' dominant decade.
When Keith debuted in Chicago, he was a youngster intent on correcting all those who warned that his average size didn't match his lofty dream of making the National Hockey League.
"I prayed to my own god when I was a kid that I would grow to six feet tall," recalled Keith. "And once I got to the NHL, it's about staying there. I was in the door, but I couldn't take a breath. Nothing beats hard work."
And nobody beats Keith in that department. He annually leads the Blackhawks in ice time, yet he's beyond just a "cyborg," as described by Sports Illustrated. Keith earned the Norris Trophy in 2010 and 2014, and the Conn Smythe Trophy in 2015, when he scored the winner in Game 6 of the Final as the Blackhawks claimed a third Stanley Cup during his tenure. In 2016, Keith was voted among the 100 greatest NHL players ever.
"I thought it was a prank when I got the call," he said. "Maybe when it's all over, I'll look back and appreciate it more. But not now."