Keith believes Blackhawks can repeat as Stanley Cup champs

Despite the turmoil swirling around the Blackhawks and a mass exodus of some key players this off-season, Duncan Keith still believes in his team.

“It's hard, but I think it can be done,” Keith told reporters in Toronto on Tuesday when asked if the Hawks could repeat as Stanley Cup champions. “I know it's hard to win a Stanley Cup, but if we don't look at it like we're trying to repeat, we're just trying like every other team to go out there and win.”

Keith, the Conn Smythe trophy winning defenseman, is taking part in the NHL Player Media Tour. He declined to talk about teammate Patrick Kane, who is facing a sexual assault investigation by authorities in Hamburg, N.Y.

Repeating without Kane — if the Hawks' superstar is traded, suspended or released — would seem to be next to impossible. But even with Kane, the loss of leaders such as Patrick Sharp, Johnny Oduya, Brad Richards and up-and-coming star Brandon Saad won't be easy to overcome.

“It always hits you,” Keith said. “It hit me the other day when I was getting back into Chicago and driving in. The only thing I'm thinking about is how I don't have my buddy (Sharp) there anymore. What's it going to be like through the year?”

Kruger update:

Reached last week via phone, Marcus Kruger's agent, J.P. Barry, said he remains in almost daily contact with the Blackhawks as they try to come to an agreement on a contract.

“We're in pretty consistent communication with them,” Barry said.

Kruger, a restricted free agent, remains unsigned in large part because the Hawks are up against the salary cap. He has been a key member of the team's penalty kill unit and contributed 7 goals and 10 assists last season.

Kruger can't go to another team unless he is traded or signs an offer sheet if he is presented with one.

• Follow John Dietz on Twitter @johndietzdh.

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