TORONTO -- Duncan Keith speaks from experience when he describes repeating as Stanley Cup champions as “hard.”
Keith and the Chicago Blackhawks have been denied twice before in their attempt to repeat as Stanley Cup champions. They’ll give it a third try this upcoming season. As difficult as it may be, Keith doesn’t believe it’s impossible.
“It’s hard, but I think it can be done,” Keith said during the NHL Player Media Tour on Tuesday. “I know it’s hard to win a Stanley Cup, but if we don’t look at it like we’re trying to repeat, we’re just trying like every other team to go out there and win. Certainly we know we’re the defending Cup champs and teams are going to come after us. We have just as good of a chance as anybody else, so why not us?”
The Blackhawks’ quest for another Stanley Cup will be done with a much different roster than last season. Six Blackhawks who played in the series-clinching Game 6 of the Stanley Cup finals are no longer with the team. Most notably Patrick Sharp was traded to the Dallas Stars and Brandon Saad to the Columbus Blue Jackets and Johnny Oduya signed with the Stars.
Keith was especially tight with Sharp and knows it’ll be different without him this season.
“It always hits you,” Keith said. “It hit me the other day when I was getting back into Chicago and driving in. The only thing I’m thinking about is how I don’t have my buddy there anymore. What’s it going to be like through the year?
“Me, Seabs [Brent Seabrook] and Sharpie, we did everything together. It’ll be different. I had my first 10 years in the league with Sharpie going for dinners on the road, just talking hockey in the hotel rooms and on the bus, just things like that. That to me is going to be a change and different. I’ve been through situations like that before. I had a good roommate in Andrew Ladd and he ended up moving on. You learn how to deal with those things over time. There’s still some sting there from missing a good friend.”
The Blackhawks’ new faces this season will include Artem Anisimov, Marko Dano, Trevor Daley, Artemi Panarin and Viktor Tikhonov, among others. Keith thinks the players coming in could help the Blackhawks to get back to their desired level of play.
“From a hockey standpoint, I think you look at some of the skill that we brought in with Dano, Panarin, even Tikhonov, I think we could surprise a lot of people with our play this year,” Keith said. “Hopefully we’re better.”
One unknown for the Blackhawks is Patrick Kane’s status for the season. Kane is under investigation for an incident that allegedly occurred at his home in Hamburg, New York. The investigation is of an alleged sexual assault, The Buffalo News reported.
Keith respectfully declined to comment about Kane.
“I’m not going to get into anything about Kane,” Keith said. “But every summer is different, every offseason is different. We won the Stanley Cup last year. We’re the defending Cup champs, so we’re going to do everything we can to defend that. We’re excited to get the season going and try to defend it.”
Keith also realizes other teams are just as excited to knock the Blackhawks off and may even see them as more vulnerable this season.
“It’s something we’ve dealt with for a while now,” Keith said. “I think every team probably looks at us and thinks that they can beat us. We’ll see come playoff time. Hopefully we can get there and find a way to do it again.”