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The secrets and techniques to Duncan Keith’s longevity

When the Chicago Blackhawks publicly admitted to a rebuild this previous offseason, there was loads of hypothesis about whether or not Chicago’s veteran core would need to see it via.

Maybe we weren’t asking the proper questions. One month into the 2021 season, the Blackhawks are much more aggressive than anticipated; at 7-5-4, Chicago is in lockstep with the Columbus Blue Jackets for the fourth Central Division playoff spot. And whereas the youth motion has been a driving pressure, we should always have been asking: Is the veteran core going to expedite this rebuild?

Captain Jonathan Toews stays away from the group with a medical absence, whereas Brent Seabrook has not performed this season, nonetheless recovering from a again harm.

Nonetheless, the 2 high performers on the Blackhawks — apart from rookie goaltender Kevin Lankinen — are Stanley Cup stalwarts Patrick Kane, who’s third within the league in factors with 22 via 16 video games, and Duncan Keith, who leads the group in minutes performed by a good margin whereas nonetheless enjoying elite-level protection. Neither seems to be slowing down anytime quickly.

“I feel like my energy levels have never been better, really,” Keith mentioned Sunday night.

A fast reminder that Keith is 37 years previous. However throughout sports activities, we’re beginning to recalibrate athletic longevity. Although there may be nonetheless an obsession with youth, particularly in hockey, we have been inundated with increasingly examples of athletes defying Father Time.

When the Patriots parted with Tom Brady they may have figured he would decline in his 40s — as a result of quarterbacks sometimes have — however that did not occur. Brady credit his off-field work, the TB12 technique, for lots of his success. In the meantime, in a season when many anticipated LeBron James to take it simple due to an unprecedented 71-day offseason, the 36-year-old is high 10 within the NBA in minutes performed, constructing a reputable MVP case. A couple of years in the past, James’ enterprise accomplice, Maverick Carter, mentioned the Lakers star spends about $1.5 million on his physique per yr.

A couple of years in the past, Keith mentioned he deliberate to play till he is 45. The defenseman admits he spoke just a little capriciously. “I kind of just said that because I was sick of the media asking,” he mentioned. “It started a few years ago when I was 34 or 35. For me, I felt like I was young, I didn’t know why I was being asked these questions. At 37 now, I look around and I’m the oldest guy on the team and there’s not a whole lot of guys my age [in the league] anymore.”

Requested if he might play to 50, Keith laughed. “I don’t know if I’ll go that far,” he mentioned. “But I feel really good right now.”

Ask anybody who has performed with Keith and so they’ll inform you he is obsessive about his off-ice routine. Many younger gamers attempt to soak up the teachings, whereas others are simply in awe.

“My first year, I was really impressed to learn how much work [Keith] does off the ice, especially when it comes to recovery,” Kirby Dach instructed me final yr. “He puts so much work in you don’t see behind closed doors.”

In 2019, The New York Times wrote an article about Keith’s routine wherein he known as himself a “biohacker and part-time hockey player.” Keith mentioned he lies on a mat with electrical currents for eight minutes each morning, and routinely spends time in entrance of Joovv lights, that are designed to assist with restoration.

“I’ve always been diligent about my training,” Keith says, now. “But now I feel like I put it all together. I’ve learned a lot over the years of what my body specifically needs.”

Since Keith debuted in 2005-06, solely Ryan Suter has performed extra minutes than his 28,839. Maybe most spectacular is Keith’s consistency. As a rookie he led the Blackhawks in ice time with over 23 minutes per recreation. Sixteen years later, he is nonetheless main the group, averaging over 24 minutes per contest.

Keith mentioned the facet of his routine that has modified probably the most as a professional is his vitamin. “I always thought my eating habits were pretty good,” he mentioned. “But now I’m at a point where I’m really dialed in, and I know how to get my energy levels up if they were down through healthy, nutritious foods I put in my body, knowing what my body responds well to.”

And for Keith, the reply shouldn’t be at all times sophisticated. “I eat a lot of steak, a lot of meat, and potatoes,” he mentioned.

Past vitamin, he is consistently interested by his power ranges.

“I think in general, I’ve had more awareness to what takes energy away from myself,” Keith mentioned. “Whether that’s staying up late, staring at my phone, looking at the screen on a TV or computer. I don’t think it’s necessarily one little gadget that helps me. They’ve got Normatec boots that help with lymphatic drainage, which is good. There’s lots of those types of little things out there you can do and spend money on, but I feel it’s always really important to master the basics, which nobody really can — or anyone that I’ve met has. That’s your sleep, your food, your hydration and your breathing. So I focus on those and it branches out after that.”

In fact, we have heard numerous athletes speak about sleep, vitamin and hydration, however respiratory is mentioned far much less usually.

“It’s very underrated,” Keith mentioned. “There should be more talk about that. Breathing, and the power of the brain, are two things in hockey or sports, that don’t get enough attention. I don’t know why that is. The muscles and aesthetics get mentioned — everyone wants to look good — and that’s important, for sure. There’s meditation breathing to bring your nervous system down to more of a parasympathetic state, where you’re relaxing, and you’re able to recover and rest. But for me, I work on my breathing and the mechanics of it a lot. I actually really started getting into proper breathing eight years ago, and have taken it to the next level in the last year especially. So that’s something I’ll continue working on.”

Coming into the 2021 season, Keith wasn’t fairly as daunted by the group’s method as some Blackhawks followers might need been. “My mindset didn’t really change, because it feels like this has been going on for a while now,” Keith mentioned. “As a player, going through the ups and downs of the season each day, wins and losses, the rebuild isn’t just starting this season. I just think the organization is trying to be a little more transparent with people. Some of these young guys that come in are excited to play NHL hockey and be in the NHL, and it’s invigorating to be part of that type of energy.”

This offers Keith a chance to be clear about his personal state of affairs. As a result of he is nonetheless contributing at an elite stage, and enjoying on a discount of a contract for his providers — he is on the tail finish of a 13-year contract, which pays him $5,538,462 yearly via 2022-23 — many have assumed Keith may waive his no-trade clause to play for a contender. However Keith emphatically says he has no intention of doing that.

“Why would I go anywhere?” Keith mentioned. “Where is it better than Chicago? It’s a great city, I’ve been fortunate to play here my whole career, great ownership, and I just love it. My goal is to win another Stanley Cup in Chicago. That’s what I want.”

Soar forward:
Three stars of the week
What we favored this week
What we did not like
Finest video games on faucet
Social put up of the week

Emptying the pocket book

1. A gaggle of 27 student-athletes, coaches and directors introduced the formation of a bunch known as Faculty Hockey for Range, Fairness & Inclusion this week.

“It’s a group of people that wanted to get together and actually make a change in hockey,” says College of Alabama Huntsville freshman Ayodele Adeniye, who’s a part of the coalition. “Our saying is, ‘One shift at a time.’ Because it might not be the biggest change at a time, but we’re just trying to enact change in some way at all times.”

Adeniye himself has an fascinating story. He was born in 1999 in Ohio, one yr earlier than the Blue Jackets debuted, so he grew up amid the realm’s participation spike, fostered by the Blue Jackets. Adeniye started enjoying via the NHL’s native Hockey Is For Everybody program, the Columbus Ice Hockey Membership. “Up until I was around 6 or 7, I was playing with a majority of Black kids,” he mentioned. “But as I started going from lower-level hockey and working my way up to higher levels, I started to be the only one.”

Faculty hockey, Adeniye explains, shouldn’t be extraordinarily various. “I have one teammate [Peyton Francis] who is African-Jamaican-Canadian,” Adeniye says. “But other than him, I have not seen another Black kid in our league. I saw one other player of color this year, when we played [Robert Morris University]. I’m actually in a group on Instagram of all the Black kids playing in NCAA hockey, and I think there are 15 or 16 of us total.”

Adeniye selected UAH partly as a result of his dad and mom moved to Alabama when he was 16. UAH is the one Division I program in a southern state. “My mom hasn’t really been able to see me play a lot since I was 16,” he mentioned. “So I knew I would be closer to her, and the fam.”

When he heard concerning the formation of the Faculty Hockey for Range, Fairness & Inclusion group, it piqued his curiosity. Adeniye reached out to a reporter he knew who had a telephone quantity for Jennifer Flowers, the WCHA ladies’s league commissioner who was organizing the group. “I reached out to her, then told my coach I wanted to be a part of it, and they accepted me,” he mentioned.

The group meets on Sundays, through Zoom, and up to now is specializing in its “first shift.” Members have been sending one another assets they discover on-line specializing in systemic racism. Their first aim is to place collectively an tutorial video that may be performed in each school hockey locker room forward of subsequent season. Adeniye has his personal concepts, too.

“There isn’t a whole lot of grassroots hockey in Alabama,” Adeniye says. “There’s not a lot of hockey programs down there, and we definitely don’t have any diversity programs or anything like that down here. So once COVID is over, I’m hoping to get into the inner city, and places where there hasn’t traditionally been hockey here, and spread the game. I already have a couple teammates that want to support me. I’m going to call it African Floor Hockey Fanatics, and we’ll go to Boys & Girls Clubs around here and teach them how to play ball hockey, give them tickets to games, and spread hockey all over Huntsville and the South, which will make it a more inclusive game.”

2. It has been some time since the very best ladies’s gamers on this planet — Marie-Philip Poulin, Shannon Szabados, Hilary Knight, Kendall Coyne-Schofield, Brianna Decker — have had a stage to carry out. We’ll begin to see them showcased in PWHPA video games, starting Feb. 27 at Madison Sq. Backyard, however the occasion everyone seems to be circling is April’s IIHF Ladies’s World Championship in Nova Scotia (which will get a second probability at internet hosting after the 2020 match was canceled).

Gamers I’ve talked to are cautiously optimistic the world championships will go on this yr — particularly because the IIHF and Hockey Canada had been capable of stage a world junior championships in December, in a bubble in Edmonton. Nonetheless, we’ve not heard a lot concerning the ladies’s senior match, in any respect. I heard that Hockey Canada requested the IIHF to maneuver the match again till Might, and the edges may push it again so far as August. I requested Hockey Canada for an replace final week. In an announcement, the group mentioned it’s in fixed communication with IIHF in addition to the province of Nova Scotia.

“At present time, hosting the 2021 IIHF Women’s World Championship in Halifax and Truro, N.S., on behalf of the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) remains a priority for Hockey Canada,” the assertion mentioned. “All our hockey, venue and event partners remain committed to finding a solution to host a successful world championship.”

So, keep tuned …

Three stars of the week


1. Cam Atkinson, RW, Columbus Blue Jackets

After a down 2019-20, Atkinson appears to have rediscovered his scoring contact. The Blue Jackets veteran had three objectives and 4 assists in three video games this week. Atkinson now has three short-handed objectives on the season, and 15 shorties for his profession, which is now probably the most in Columbus franchise historical past (passing Rick Nash’s 14).


2. Mike Smith, G, Edmonton Oilers

He missed the primary month of the season on long-term injured reserve, and a few followers weren’t happy that the Oilers determined to carry again the 38-year-old (as an alternative of discovering an improve this offseason). However Smith was a stabilizing pressure for Edmonton this week, stopping 65 of 66 photographs over two appearances (.985 save proportion), together with a shutout towards Montreal.


3. Marc-Andre Fleury, G, Vegas Golden Knights

The Golden Knights are 8-1-1 at residence this season, and Fleury has been an enormous a part of that success. A 30-save shutout on Sunday (the 63rd of his profession) meant he stopped 100 of 106 photographs over 4 video games this week (.943 save proportion), three of which had been wins.

What we favored this week

1. Boston Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask is without doubt one of the greatest personalities within the recreation. He would not take himself too significantly. He has human moments, and is blissful to speak about them. And that is precisely what occurred Wednesday evening when Rask left the Bruins’ web with one minute remaining in a tied recreation.

“I honestly thought we were down 2-1,” Rask admitted afterward. “That’s it. I thought we were down 2-1. I was waiting for [coach Bruce Cassidy] to wave me over there. I’m like why the heck is he not? … Then I think Chucky [Charlie McAvoy] told me, ‘Buddy it’s 2-2.’ So …”

Fortunately the Bruins made it out of the jam unscathed, and gained due to Brad Marchand’s extra time winner.

“It’s an entertainment industry I guess,” Rask mentioned. “That’s what we’re trying to provide, entertainment for the fans. I’m sure people were shocked at first, but hopefully they got a good laugh out of that. I sure did.”

2. Talking of Fleury, here is the very best save I’ve seen this yr:

3. The Los Angeles Kings acknowledged Black Historical past Month on Tuesday with all gamers sporting warm-up jerseys that includes both Willie O’Ree’s or Blake Bolden’s identify. That is precisely what allyship appears like, and it was cool to see how transferring the gesture was for the 29-year-old Bolden, who works for the Kings and is the NHL’s first Black feminine scout.

What we did not like this week

1. Whereas I do know new Pittsburgh president of hockey ops Brian Burke and GM Ron Hextall are well-known hockey males with expertise working NHL groups — one thing the Pittsburgh Penguins coveted, given their urgency to maximise the tip of the Sidney Crosby period — it’s a must to ask your self: Are there actually solely 40 folks certified for a lot of these jobs, and at what level can we cease biking via them? Once more, not a complete slight to the Penguins right here, what they did is simply emblematic of hockey’s hiring practices.

Final yr, NHL teaching agent Neil Glasberg — a champion for diversifying entrance places of work, together with the consideration of extra European candidates — known as this the NHL’s groupthink downside. We have talked about it in relation to coaches, nevertheless it’s simply as unhealthy with administration positions.

“The easiest way to frame it is an unwillingness to consider — let alone listen — to anybody who isn’t widely known by the hiring manager, whether it’s the GM, the [assistant] GM, owner, or whoever is running the search,” Glasberg mentioned. “Which I think is selling themselves short. Why wouldn’t you want to talk to as many qualified people as possible? Instead, most NHL teams have this ‘hire-a-friend’ mentality. I hear this from my guys all the time: ‘It’s not the best candidate that gets hired. It’s the candidate with the best network or who is the best known.’ That’s not how you build success. No company would ever be successful if they were just hiring people they knew.”

2. Greg Wyshynski and I’ll have rather more on the NHL’s plans to complete the season later this week, nevertheless it’s of notice that we’re solely a month in, and the NHL has already needed to alter its security protocols twice — clamping down on participant actions every time. Within the newest edict, despatched to groups this week, it’s “strongly recommended” that members of gamers’ households restrict their actions as a lot as attainable. Gamers, in the meantime, might be required to stay at residence until they’re attending practices and video games, exercising open air, performing important actions (similar to going to the physician), or coping with household or different emergencies.

There’s nonetheless optimism that the season may be accomplished in its present format, and sources on each the NHL and NHLPA sides confused that they are prepared to tweak protocols as many instances as wanted to adapt. There have not been any significant conversations about returning to a bubble — and we all know how gamers really feel concerning the bubble, so it could be a tough promote — nevertheless it’s alarming that we’re in a state of affairs the place some groups (just like the Vancouver Canucks, who’ve competed in 18 video games) have performed double the quantity as different groups (the New Jersey Devils have accomplished simply 9 video games).

That is why everybody you speak to across the NHL stresses one factor: Take note of factors proportion. All groups may not get to 56 video games, however it will likely be important for each division to hit roughly the identical variety of video games.

Prime video games on faucet this week

Be aware: All instances Japanese.


Monday, Feb. 15: St. Louis Blues vs Arizona Coyotes, 4 p.m.

All of it comes right down to this: In an unprecedented seven straight video games that includes the identical opponents, Monday marks the pivotal Recreation 7. The Yotes got here out sturdy, however the banged-up Blues gained the previous two. Mixture objectives are 20-19, St. Louis. Each groups are wanting ahead to a break from one another after this.


Friday, Feb. 19: Edmonton Oilers at Calgary Flames, 9 p.m. (ESPN+)

Regardless of this being a whole season constructed round rivalry video games, each contest within the Battle of Alberta seems like appointment viewing. Each groups are nonetheless looking for their stride, with Edmonton placing veteran James Neal on waivers over the weekend (to be placed on the taxi squad for cap flexibility).


Saturday, Feb. 20: Vegas Golden Knights at Colorado Avalanche, 3 p.m.

The NHL’s first of a two-game set in Lake Tahoe will characteristic these two Western powers. Get excited for a shocking backdrop — the rink was constructed on a golf course subsequent to the lake — loads of panoramic views and a few playoff-level depth (it will likely be the third time these groups play this week). Fortunately for Colorado, star Nathan MacKinnon is again after being sidelined three weeks with a lower-body harm.

Social media put up of the week

Chirping would not cease when you hold up the skates. Traditional troll job from Kevin Bieksa right here:

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