It will not be the first time that Duncan Keith has taken on the team with which he spent 16 seasons, as he saw his former club on a couple of occasions in Edmonton already this season. Nevertheless, his first trip back to a building that is as significant as the United Center is to Keith will make for a special night.
Keith’s tenure with the Blackhawks is well-documented, as it was filled with success. During his time in Chicago, the blueliner was a key cog in three Stanley Cup championships. He won the Conn Smythe as the postseason’s MVP when the Hawks won in 2015.
He also established himself as one of the league’s best defensemen, claiming the Norris Trophy as such in 2010 and 2014. As a result of his sustained success in the Windy City, Keith earned a spot on the NHL’s 100 Greatest Players list.
Last offseason, his time with the Blackhawks came to a close when he was traded to the Oilers.
Duncan Keith is returning to Chicago for the first time.
Now 38 years old, Keith is enjoying a solid campaign as a member of the Oilers. In 36 games this year, he has one goal, 13 assists, and a plus-five rating. He is sixth on the team in ice time per game, as he plays just over 20 minutes per contest.
Though he has missed some time due to injury, he is in the top ten on his team in both assists and plus-minus, a refreshing change from a season ago when he showed significant regression from his former elite self.
It also seems that in his short time in Alberta, the established veteran has quickly become a revered figure in the Edmonton locker room, as his teammates made sure that his return to his long-time NHL home was special.
As he makes his return, all eyes will be on number two on Thursday. Yes, there will surely be a great ovation and tribute for Keith, but there will also be a much-needed two points on the line as the Oilers look to climb back into a playoff position in the Western Conference.
Keith, who just came off of the injured reserve on Tuesday, has not recorded a point since February 2, but he’ll look to take advantage of the familiar surroundings and do his part to get Edmonton those all-important points.
On the season, the Oilers are 30-21-3, which lands the club in a tie with the Dallas Stars for the final playoff spot in the West. Edmonton has played one extra game, so it finds itself on the outside looking in.
In his storied career, Keith has played 1,228 games and scored 639 points (106 goals and 533 assists). He’ll write another chapter when he returns to the place where his career began and thrived.