Duncan Keith, the longest-tenured member of the Chicago Blackhawks, is putting up the third-best offensive season of his 12-year career and remains a defensive dynamo. Yet his name hasn't been bandied about much in the Norris Trophy discussion. That doesn't matter much to Keith, who has won the Norris twice -- as well as the the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP in 2015 -- but measures his success in Stanley Cups, not individual awards.
ESPN.com caught up with the 33-year-old -- who has played his entire career for the Blackhawks -- last weekend after Keith and his team had clinched their ninth consecutive playoff berth to discuss how long the defenseman will continue playing, what it means to wear the Team Canada sweater, his young son's favorite player (it's not him) and what he does for fun away from the rink.
ESPN.com: Although the core is the same, there are a lot of new faces in your dressing room this season. How does this team keep reinventing itself year after year?
Keith: It's not like we didn't have our struggles throughout the season, but I think that -- especially over the past month, with the roll we've been on -- we're a confident group right now. We've got a great core, a group of guys who care and want to win. We're not satisfied. I feel lucky to be part of that, to play with guys like Marian Hossa, Brent Seabrook and Kaner [Patrick Kane] and [Jonathan] Toews, and have a goalie like Corey [Crawford]. The list goes on. You also have to give our management and coaches a lot of credit too: Management for finding guys to come in and play and fill voids left by the guys before. And the coaches for being able to assimilate everybody and find new roles for guys and get us all on the same page year after year when there is so much turnover.
ESPN.com: As one of the leaders on this team, what do you do with the younger players when they come in for the first time? Is it more by osmosis, leading by example, or do you sometimes take a kid aside and talk to him?
Keith: It's a little bit different for everybody. You get a guy like [Ryan] Hartman, who had played in the minors for a couple of years. I think he was ready to make that step this year. He's got good habits already. Maybe with other guys, you notice that they're young and need to learn, whether it's taking them aside or just showing them or saying, 'Hey this is what you need to be doing here. This is a big step from college.' But a lot of it is on the individual, too. It's up to them. It's like the old saying, 'You can lead the horse to the water, but you can't make him drink.' We've been lucky to have guys who come in and want to be part of a winning team.
ESPN.com: Do the core guys, the original group, ever take stock of what you've accomplished so far together?
Keith: I spend a lot of time with Seabs, obviously. I think we're both proud to have played with the same organization as long as we have and to play in a city like Chicago, and for these fans. There are times when we reflect how lucky we are to be in this situation, and how much fun we've had in this city. It wasn't always the organization that it is now. It's been quite a turnaround. We just feel lucky to be part of it.
ESPN.com: I've talked to former greats who had won multiple Cups and have always been struck by how winning titles seems to create a deeper hunger to win even more. You've won three Cups. Are you just as hungry as ever to win a fourth?
Keith: Absolutely. When you win one, you realize that it's not a sprint, but a marathon. You never want to get too high or too low. We know it's a long way to go. Once you get into the playoffs, that hunger comes back. There's no better feeling than being able to hoist a Cup and celebrate it with family and friends, and especially your teammates, knowing everything you put in. You win one and you feel good. You're able to say you didn't have to go your whole career without winning one. You feel lucky to be playing with such a great group of guys and being part of a great organization that continually evolves and keeps pushing to try to win more. After we won that first one, we were happy. And then a couple of years go by, and you're like, 'Why not win another here? Let's go.' After two Cups, it was like, 'Let's try to win as many as we can.'
ESPN.com: I've seen you pretty happy after a couple of Olympic tournaments with Team Canada as well. [Keith smiles.] What was it like to have to make the decision to miss the World Cup in September? [Keith pulled out of the tournament to continue rehabbing his right knee.] It's not the Olympics, but I know also how much it matters to you to wear the Maple Leaf.
Keith: It was extremely frustrating, knowing that I had a long layoff and had tried to do everything I could, to do what I was told to do to hopefully be ready for the World Cup. Unfortunately it didn't work out that way. Anytime you have a chance to play for your country -- and having the tournament in Canada, where it's all about hockey ... One thing I can say about Hockey Canada and being on all those teams, you always learn a lot and you get better because you're around such great players. That, for me, has always been the best part about it. And obviously I love winning, so in this case I missed out on a championship.
ESPN.com: How important is it to you for NHL players to play again in the Olympics?
Keith: I think it's important. The level of hockey there -- I know it's high in the playoffs too -- but when you're in a one-game-takes-all and you're on Canada playing the U.S., there's no better hockey you're going to be a part of. As a competitive guy, I want to be part of those games. And obviously I want to represent my country again and bring home the gold. On top of all that, it's good for hockey to have the best players in the world at the Olympics.
ESPN.com: You have six more years left on your contract after this season. I'm beginning to think you may need an extension, since it appears that you're in as good as shape as you've been. Are you?
Keith: Yeah, I honestly feel that I'm in the best shape that I've ever been in. I have more energy than ever. Maybe that's just learning new things over the years and learning about my body, better nutrition, how to recover better and how to take care of myself. But I'm just trying to play in the moment. I'm happy now. I feel good, and hopefully -- knock on wood -- my body holds up.
ESPN.com: You have a 4-year-old son, correct?
Keith: [Smiles.] He'll be 4 in May.
ESPN.com: Is he starting to become aware of how famous his dad is and what he does for a living?
Keith: Ha, I don't know about all that, but he's pretty smart. He knows pretty much all the teams now. For a little guy who's not even 4 years old yet, I think that's pretty impressive. I was able to take him to the All-Star Game this year. It's fun to see how much he likes the game and how much he wants to get on the ice and play hockey and put on all his different jerseys. I actually got him a bunch of different teams' jerseys because he likes to put them all on. Somebody walks into the house and he puts a jersey on, then 20 minutes later it's another jersey. I put the music on like he's out there warming up for a game. We'll see, but I think he likes to skate, too. It's going to be a lot of fun.
ESPN.com: Who's his favorite player?
Keith: I don't know, I think maybe it's Brent Burns. I don't know if he likes Burns' beard but he likes the [San Jose] Sharks. We watched the finals last year and he was pretty mesmerized by the players skating out onto the ice through that big Shark head. And he likes their jersey, too.
ESPN.com: Some players want to keep eating hockey 24/7. They go home and watch other games. Other players need to turn their brain off from hockey and watch their favorite TV show or read a good book. How do you relax when you're away from the rink?
Keith: I watch hockey but not quite as much as before. I feel like I need to get away from it a little bit. I've gotten more into reading the last couple of years. And obviously, I enjoy spending the most time with my son. For me, it's all about him -- just enjoying the time I have with him and teaching him as much as I can. And he's teaching me every day, too.
ESPN.com: What's the book you're enjoying right now?
Keith: The 'Tools of Titans,' by Tim Ferriss. It's got a lot of good info. I like to read books that aren't fiction, that have things you can learn from and take away from reading them.