– Duncan Keith
speaks with a heavy lisp now after seven teeth were knocked out by a puck on Sunday, followed by two hours in a dentist's chair on Monday.
Eating is even more of a challenge than usual for the wiry Blackhawks defenseman -- and then there are the jokes from teammates about his "Million Dollar Smile."
Still, all in all, Keith's mouth is one of the most widely talked about things in sports this week. The Chicago Tribune did a follow-up story about it that quoted dental experts, and another Trib article even quoted 'Hawks legend Stan Mikita talking about his own dental issues -- along with the time he needed an earlobe reattached during a game.
Amid all the talk about his missing choppers, Keith took to the ice on Monday for a workout.
"I might not sound the same," he said on Tuesday, beginning a media session with reporters. "But I feel the same."
He might be missing a few bicuspids, but Keith hasn't lost his sense of humor -- which was clearly evident on Tuesday. Q
: How many shots did you have to get?Keith
: "I don't know how many shots they gave me to numb it up through the course of the game, and then being in the dentist's office. That was probably the worst part about it actually -- getting the needles in gums and roots." Q
: What's the plan now? Just be like this for a while?Keith
: "Yeah, it's just to be like this until the end of the season, and then after that just to go in and hopefully get some nice teeth." Q
: Are you amazed at how much coverage this has gotten? You are front page on everything.Keith
: "Yeah, that's what I've been hearing. I don't know. I guess if you lose a lot of teeth it makes the news. It's not out of the ordinary, I guess, when a hockey player loses some teeth -- but I certainly lost my fair share." Q
: Where are they?Keith
: "Um, the Tooth Fairy took 'em last night from under the pillow." Q
: With seven of them, you should've scored big time.Keith
: "Yeah, well, she never left me too much ... but she took 'em. That's for sure." Q
: Are your teammates giving you sympathy or giving you some abuse?Keith
: "A little bit of both. A little sympathy because I kind of look ... uh ... a little bit rough around the edges right now, but it's all in good fun. Some of the guys have been giving it to me a little bit. I guess that's to be expected. I lost most of my mouth. Not anything I can't take, though." Q
: What is it feel like to hear that coming back and playing in that game was inspirational for the rest of the team as well as the fans who saw what you went through?Keith
: "I guess it means a lot when the guys say that. When I think about my teammates and our team, I think anybody would have done that, would have come back and played. We've just got a lot of character in the room." Q
: Are you glad the focus is going to quickly turn to what's more important ... the Stanley Cup Final on Saturday?Keith
: "I think that's the main thing here. I lost some teeth, but at the end of the day we're going to battle against a real tough team. We know what they've been able to do against some real good teams in New Jersey, then what they did against the Bruins and then I thought they handled the Canadiens pretty good. We're going to be in a tough battle for sure." Q
: Who are going to be some of their key players?Keith
: "It starts with (Chris) Pronger. He's a big guy back there and he's a workhorse and he's basically out there most of the game. He's one of the guys we've got to watch for, and they've got a lot of forwards. Mike Richards, he's their captain. The list goes on. They've got a lot of guys with character, who work hard and have a lot of skill. It's going to be tough." Q
: A lot of guys said they are itching to get back out there. Is it good for you to have these days with no games?Keith
: "It's nice, but I feel like I'm ready to play now. I think both teams would like to get it going and get started." Q
: Did you spend a lot of time yesterday at the dentist?Keith
: "Probably a couple of hours. They can only do so much, just to tide it over until I can get some teeth in there." Q
: Does this make you a little less excited about meal time?Keith
: "I always have trouble getting food in me as it is. Now it's even more of a battle, but I'll be all right." Q
: Has there been a message of 'Grab this thing now,' because future trips to the Final and future Cups are never promised?Keith
: "Exactly. It's not every day you're playing for the Stanley Cup. We know what an opportunity we have here, and I think we all realize what's at stake and that this kind of opportunity doesn't come around too often. We need to seize the moment." Q
: Will you have to wear the full face shield in the Final?Keith
: "No, I don't think I need that. It's just the gums now." Q
: No mouth guard or anything? Keith
: "I had a mouth guard in there, but obviously a mouth guard's not going to do much when the puck's going that fast." Q
: What are some of the best jokes your teammates have come up with since it happened?Keith
: "There's been a few. I don't know. I look like a homeless guy sometimes ... but what can you do? I'm not the only guy missing some teeth." Q
: Some guys were talking about how it was to communicate with you, because they didn't know what you were saying afterward.Keith
: "I feel like I'm getting better now at talking, but when it first happened I had some trouble trying to learn how to talk with no teeth. So, I guess they had a little bit of trouble understanding what I was saying and trying to get across to them on the power play."
"I guess if you lose a lot of teeth it makes the news. It's not out of the ordinary, I guess, when a hockey player loses some teeth -- but I certainly lost my fair share." -- Duncan Keith
: What was it you were trying to tell them?Keith
: "Give me the puck." Q
: If that had hit your nose, it might have crushed your nose and put you out for a while.Keith
: "Yeah, you know, in a lot of ways I was lucky. It didn't break any of my lip and I didn't have to get stitches that way or have it break my nose or something of that magnitude." Q
: When you got hit, did you know what it was?Keith
: "Yeah, I knew it was a puck. I saw the puck coming and I couldn't move my head quick enough. He just kind of twirled and fired it, and I was going right at the puck so there wasn't much time to react. I knew right away that it wasn't good." Q
: Just to clarify, you feel lucky that it hit you in that area?Keith
: "I feel lucky that it wasn't a lot worse. I'm missing some teeth, but I'd rather have it this way rather than breaking something else."
Author: Brian Hedger | NHL.com Correspondent