The Chicago Blackhawks will be without one of their core players for Game 4 of the NHL Western Conference finals on Thursday as the league suspended defenseman Duncan Keith for one game after his high-sticking of Kings center Jeff Carter in Game 3.
Keith, a repeat offender, had a telephone hearing Wednesday morning with the league's department of player safety regarding the incident. He practiced with his teammates at Staples Center in the afternoon and word of the one-game suspension came down several hours later.
His absence will be a major concern for Chicago, which leads the series two games to one. It would be somewhat comparable to the Kings having to play without All-Star defenseman Drew Doughty for a game in the playoffs. Keith leads the Blackhawks in minutes played.
"It is not an accidental high stick. Nor is it a defensive high stick to an opponent," said Brendan Shanahan, the NHL's chief disciplinarian, in the league's video explanation. "This is a retaliatory high stick to an opponent that causes an injury."
The incident occurred at 7 minutes 58 seconds of the second period and Keith received a double-minor for high-sticking. Keith apologized to Carter for his actions, and Carter left the game briefly. He needed 20 stitches and there was some dental damage.
It would appear that defenseman Sheldon Brookbank would be the one to take Keith's spot in the lineup, although the Blackhawks declined to speculate on their plans before the suspension came down.
"For sure, I'm ready," Brookbank said after practice. "I had another stretch in my career one time where I didn't play for a while too. I feel like I'm ready to go. It's not easy staying with it, staying ready.
"It's part of the job. It's one of the reasons they brought me here."