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09-17-2011, 10:58 PM
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MadhouseOnMadison
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Duncan Keith rejuvenated for this season.

Quote:
Blackhawks' Keith rejuvenated for this season
Defenseman in a better place mentally and physically than this time last year

The summer after the Blackhawks won the 2010 Stanley Cup, Duncan Keith took some time to relax before the defenseman began training for another season of hockey.

Just not nearly enough time.

"We won the Cup and I took two weeks off," Keith said. "Looking back, it was probably the stupidest thing I could have done. But I didn't want to be behind in my training; I wanted to get stronger and get going to the gym.

"I remember doing squats and my hip would be bothering me and my shoulder felt like it was coming out. I needed to take maybe another month off and I would have been a lot better for it."

Keith refuses to use as an excuse the lack of time to rejuvenate following the run to the championship, but he wasn't able to maintain the level of play he reached in 2009-10 when he skated off with the Norris Trophy as the league's top defenseman.

"Everybody will tell you when you go that far there's always little injuries and things that come up," Keith said. "It can be tough to play through that, and then when you get back to the gym and you start training for the season, those injuries haven't healed.

"I felt like I could play every game so I played. If I wasn't ready to go then I wouldn't have played."

Keith did play in all 82 regular-season contests and seven more in the Western Conference quarterfinals against the Canucks. The Cup season, it was 82 regular-season games and 22 in the playoffs. That was a combined 5,193 minutes of ice time over two seasons, which is more than 31/2solid days of chasing and moving pucks and delivering and absorbing checks. Throw in a stint on the 2010 gold-medal-winning Canadian Olympic team, and it made for a run-down Keith.

"You feel like you're going into (last) season feeling good and you try to tell yourself you feel good and you get going and the body checks are coming and you realize you definitely don't feel as good as you have in years past," the 28-year-old said. "I was excited to play last year. I maybe could have done a better job of taking more rest rather than getting back in the gym right away and not trying to be a workaholic so much."

The first-round playoff departure afforded the Hawks and Keith more time to rest than they'd have liked, but he took advantage of it. After a busy July when he got married to wife Kelly-Rae in the Virgin Islands, six weeks of R&R began when the pair met up with former Hawks teammate Brian Campbell and his fiancee in Italy and then hung out with another ex-mate, Cam Barker, and his girlfriend in Greece.

But most of the time, Keith spent at his home in Penticton, British Columbia.

"I was just back at my house on the lake, training (and) working out," Keith said. "It was real peaceful and quiet. It feels like I was in isolation for a couple of months."

It was a noticeably more relaxed and refreshed Keith who took the ice Saturday during the first on-ice sessions of training camp at the United Center, and the Hawks are hoping that leads to another trophy-winning season for defenseman.

"Watching him (Saturday) and looking at him on a daily basis over the last couple of weeks, he really looks like he's in the right place," Hawks coach Joel Quenneville said.

Keith confirmed he's in a better place mentally and physically than this time last year.

"I feel better," he said. "Now it's just a matter of going out there on the ice and making it work. I think we all had a long break, a lot of rest and a lot of time to enjoy ourselves. It's time to get back to work now."
I think he's going to have a monster year.

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