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Blackhawks Wed Jun 25 2014
Coming into the 2013-'14 season, Duncan Keith and his teammates were fresh off the heels of winning their second Stanley Cup in four seasons. It was a summer of showing off the most prized trophy in sports across Canada, parts of Europe and here in the U.S., at a mix of donut shops, fishing trips and every bar in River North.
The joyous feeling was familiar to some, new to others, but one every member of this team agreed would never get old. Repeating as champs in any sport is extremely difficult, especially in one that implements a salary cap like the NHL. And while the randomness of the puck bouncing every which way plays a part in who wins or loses, the one thing that remains constant on the ice is the skill level of a player in his prime.
Keith didn't get his chance to hoist Lord Stanley over his head this season due to a few bad bounces and a Kings team that outplayed coach Joel Quenneville's team, but he was rewarded for his hard work throughout the season at Tuesday night's NHL awards ceremony in Las Vegas.
Every athlete will tell you that the personal accolades are great, but it's the team effort that wins games, not the individual. Keith echoed those sentiments after he collected his second James Norris Memorial Trophy, an award handed out each year to the league's best defenseman, for the second time in his nine-year career.
The Professional Hockey Writers' Association voted on what everyone at home saw each and every night: the 30-year-old Keith scoring 61 points, fourth best on the team, which equaled six goals and a league-leading for defensemen 55 assists. Those numbers equaled out to 1,033 votes in all, 68 of those first-place votes.
Keith becomes the second Hawks player in franchise history to win the Norris Trophy twice (Chris Chelios and Pierre Pilote are the others) and the twelfth overall in league history. Oh, by the way, those whom have won it twice have a seat in hockey's Hall of Fame, with the exception of Nicklas Lidstrom (seven-time winner) who for sure will be elected once eligible.
As if Keith already didn't have enough hardware in his trophy case -- two Stanley Cup rings and two Olympic gold medals -- he'll now add a second Norris. His level of play on the advanced stat sheets reveal he'll have a shot at not only helping his team to another run at the Cup, but another possible Norris Trophy.
Last season, Keith's CORSI-for was seventh best in the league at 56.6 percent, a mere two-tenths of a percentage point behind teammate Brent Seabrook. And while the Hawks were pretty evenly dispersed amongst defensemen, Keith still logged an average of 24.2 minutes of time on the ice, seventeenth best in the league.
It's a great honor for a great player who beat out two other great defensemen in Zdeno Chara of the Bruins and Shea Weber of the Predators. Keith's great play alone nearly won his team their third Cup in five seasons, but it wasn't to be. If he continues on this pace for next season, he'll for sure help them get as far if not further.