CHICAGO -- Duncan Keith
just wasn't himself last season.
The Blackhawks' fastest skater even looked a little sluggish at times and had a striking number of mental mistakes that wound up being costly during the course of the season -- just one season removed from winning the Norris Trophy, Stanley Cup and helping Canada win the gold medal at the 2010 Winter Olympics.
On the surface, his overall numbers weren't terrible. He scored 7 goals and added 38 assists, but the 28-year old Keith also finished with a minus-1 rating -- the first time since his rookie season that he finished in the negative.
Then during a grueling seven-game first round series against the Vancouver Canucks
, Keith openly talked about what many had hypothesized all season long regarding his slump. He was simply burned out, mentally as much as physically.
After a long summer break to rest up and give his motivation a recharge, Keith said he's ready to reclaim his status as one of the League's unquestioned top blueliners.
"I always believe in myself," Keith said. "It doesn't t really matter what some people say about me or how I play. I learned a lot from last year. I'd played a lot of hockey the year before and the year before that one, when went to the (Western Conference) finals. So, I think I know what went wrong last season that contributed to parts of my game that didn't look as good. I still believe in myself and what I can do. There are no injuries now and nothing bothering me or nagging me. I'm just excited to get going."