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Duncan Keith: The Man Of Steel

by Anne E. Stein / Chicago Blackhawks

This is an excerpt from the Stanley Cup Playoffs edition of Blackhawks Magazine, the official game program of the Chicago Blackhawks.

Among coaches and teammates, Duncan Keith is famous for his off-the-chart fitness. He posts Lance Armstrong-type numbers on the bike, can run and skate without end, and since arriving in Chicago four years ago, he’s averaged more ice time than any Blackhawk, logging up to 30 minutes a game. According to team lore, the Hawks’ top defenseman never seems to get tired and doesn’t even breathe hard when he comes off the ice.

“I’ve never seen it in a player. I don’t know what his secret is,” says Blackhawks assistant coach Mike Haviland.

Sleep could be one thing; Brent Seabrook says it’s his defensive partner’s only hobby. He’s awfully picky about what goes in his body too, says Haviland, so eating right definitely helps. But Keith, 25, thinks it’s probably hard work.

“When I was a kid, I always wanted to be the hardest-working guy and do whatever it took, so when I looked back I wouldn’t have any regrets if I didn’t make it to the NHL.”

As a teenager growing up in Penticton, British Columbia, he’d stay home on Friday and Saturday nights, telling friends that he had to shoot pucks. At age 16, recounts his father David, Duncan tied three car tires around his waist with a belt and rope and ran around the yard, dragging them behind – and shredding the lawn.

“I had a book on training and I wanted to get better and quicker,” Duncan explains, “and one of the ways I read about was to sprint as though you’re pulling something, so I thought of pulling tires.”

“You could tell when he walked in the door that he wanted to be an NHL player,” says Sharks assistant Trent Yawney, who coached Duncan as head coach of the Hawks’ AHL affiliate Norfolk Admirals and for a spell in Chicago. “He was very dedicated and very respectful. He was an absolute sponge about how to get better. I was almost worried about giving him too much [information to digest] because he always wanted more.”

Rob McLaughlin coached Keith for two years, from ages 14-15 in Penticton, and has similar memories.

“You knew he was going to be one of those kids who’d play at a higher level. His skating and stickhandling was heads and tails above the other kids, even though he was smaller than everyone else. He worked harder too – it didn’t matter if it was the mile run or a race on the ice. He wanted to be the best guy out there.”

Get the full article at any Blackhawks 2009 home playoff game. Can't make it to a game and want to purchase an issue? Call the Blackhawks Store at 1-800-GO-HAWKS.

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