EDMONTON, AB - When you wear the red, white and black of the Chicago Blackhawks for as long as defenceman Duncan Keith did, swapping to the blue and orange of the Edmonton Oilers can feel like a major adjustment.
"I've been wearing the Oilers shirt and stuff in my gym back home, so I'm getting used to what it looks like with orange on," Keith said, speaking to the media after joining his teammates on Friday for his first session at Training Camp.
The 38-year-old is a veteran of 16 NHL seasons - with three Stanley Cups, two Norris Trophies, two Olympic gold medals, and a Conn Smythe Trophy to his name - but being dealt to a new team and joining another organization at this stage of his career is an entirely new experience for the sure-fire lock for the Hockey Hall of Fame.
From the moment he was acquired by the club after making a priority of being closer to his eight-year-old son Colton at home in Penticton, he's felt more than comfortable calling himself an Oiler.
"I can't say enough about the organization from the day I got traded and players, management and coaches reaching out," he said. "I've never been traded before, so for me that was a unique experience. I've been fortunate to play for a great organization for a long time in Chicago, but everything that's happened since the trade here in Edmonton just makes me feel right at home and proud to be an Oiler.
"I'm excited to be a part of this team. I really can't say enough good things about the way I've been treated here. I feel like I've been spoiled from by the organization, and even the people in Edmonton."
Video: RAW | Duncan Keith 10.01.21
Keith has always played with a chip on his shoulder since coming in as a fresh-faced rookie during the '05-06 season, operating since then as an immensely skilled puck-mover and one of the most dominant blueliners in the League with 105 goals and 625 points in 1,192 career NHL games.
With a new challenge to look forward to in Edmonton, Keith is keen to make good on the faith put in him by General Manager and President of Hockey Operations Ken Holland, along with the expectations for him to contribute to a hungry Oilers group determined to push further into the Stanley Cup Playoffs this season.
"I think you always have to prove something. That's how you stay in the League," Keith said. "I wasn't a first-round pick, I was never a highly-touted prospect coming into the League, so I just continue to do what I've tried to do my career and work hard trying to help the team win any way I can.
"There are always critics, and that's what makes hockey fun in a lot of ways. People have opinions on players and teams, and ultimately it comes down to how you perform on the ice and how the team performs."
Where he fits into the complexion of the Oilers defence will be up to the Oilers coaching staff, but make no mistake, Keith knows he still has plenty left to give as a tenured NHL veteran in his new Oilers environment.
"For me, I want to help this team any way I can, and I think that's always been my goal going into this season," he said. "Whatever comes my way, I try to embrace that situation or role. I think we got a lot of great defencemen here… we'll all try to push each other and try to improve. I think that internal competition is good for our group to have where we can really push each other to better ourselves and, ultimately, better the team."
Keith appeared in 10 postseasons with Chicago, including seven straight from 2008-17, collecting three Stanley Cups, a Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP, and 86 points in 135 total playoff games.
The 6-foot-1, 192-pound defender hopes to translate some of that post-season experience and success to the Oilers, marking helping his new side to secure a playoff spot as a first priority.
"The goal is to get to the playoffs, then anything can happen," Keith said. "But once you're in the playoffs, it's that time to try to find a way to elevate your game.