Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Duncan Keith may be in some hot water with the NHL following an incident on Tuesday night in which he violently struck an opponent in the face with his stick.
In the first period of the Blackhawks matchup against the Wild, Keith was dumped to the ice by a bodycheck from Wild forward Charlie Coyle. Keith, a respected veteran defenseman, responded by swing his stick directly into Coyle’s face, drawing blood and stopping play. Keith was assessed a match penalty, ending his night prematurely.
The match penalty comes as a result of officials identifying intent to injure on the play and carries with it an automatic one-game suspension. There could be more supplemental discipline heading Keith’s way, though, as the league is reportedly reviewing the tape.
While Keith isn’t typically viewed as a dirty player, he did have a somewhat similar incident during the Western Conference Final back in 2013, when he intentionally swung his stick into the face of Kings forward Jeff Carter, requiring a 20-stitch repair job and some dental work for Carter. Keith was suspended one game for that play.
It’ll be interesting to see how the league handles this latest case, but there’s a good possibility Keith could miss upwards of a handful of games heading down the home stretch of the season, which isn’t great news for the Blackhawks, who are battling for playoff positioning in a heavy-hitting Western Conference.
UPDATE: Keith has been suspended six games (including one playoff game) as a result of the incident.