Chicago Blackhawks teammates react to Keith's slashing

So, what was Duncan Keith thinking when he swung his stick at Charlie Coyle's head during the Blackhawks' loss at Minnesota on Tuesday?

It's a question that remains unanswered Thursday as Keith did not speak to reporters after the Hawks practiced at Johnny's IceHouse West.

Keith, who is suspended until the NHL's Department of Player Safety decides on his punishment, waived his right to an in-person hearing and will have his case heard over the phone this afternoon. The defenseman can practice with the team while suspended.

Coach Joel Quenneville said he "spoke briefly about" the incident to the team, which figures to be without Keith for the five games that remain in the regular season. Quenneville was asked if he thinks Keith's action hurt the Hawks.

"Every player's different - their roles, their expectations, the way they play that makes them successful, what drives them," Quenneville said. "The way he is - his competitiveness - is part of what makes him a great player. ...

"Being smart and knowing the limit is what we'll have to deal with."

Keith's actions over the past four years, which include elbowing the Canucks' Daniel Sedin in 2012 and swinging his stick at the Kings' Jeff Carter in the 2013 Western Conference finals, are starting to earn the Norris Cup-winning defenseman a reputation as a player who snaps when provoked on the ice.

"Stuff like that is so reactionary," Quenneville said. "We always talk about discipline as a team. As a team we feel we're pretty strong in that area. We deal with it the right way.

"Going forward, we've got to be smart about how we play on the ice, how we react to different situations, and we don't hurt the team."

This will be the second time this season the Hawks will be without Keith for an extended period. They went 5-4-1 when he missed 10 games after having a minor medical procedure on his right knee early in the season.

Brent Seabrook stepped up in a big way in Keith's absence by scoring 3 goals and recording 8 assists. Trevor van Riemsdyk also saw his minutes drastically increase and can expect the same to happen now until Keith is reinstated.

The difference this time is that Trevor Daley isn't around, meaning that Viktor Svedberg, Erik Gustafsson and Michal Rozsival must fill the gaps.

"It won't be just one guy filling in for Duncs," van Riemsdyk said. "He does too many special things and he's too great of a player for one guy to come in and fill his void. It'll be a team effort and, however long or short it may be, we'll be ready to go."

Said Andrew Desjardins: "It's tough losing a guy like that, but you have to look at it the other way. There's no way of getting him back, so you have to look forward and take control of the situation."

The Hawks have almost no chance of catching St. Louis or Dallas in the Central Division, but must be careful not to fall behind Nashville into fourth place. If that were to happen, a first-round playoff matchup with Anaheim or Los Angeles would loom.

Fortunately for the Hawks, three of their last five games are against Winnipeg (31-39-7), Arizona (34-35-7) and Columbus (30-38-8).

Still, if Keith isn't around when the playoffs begin, can the Hawks find a way to battle through that adversity? Quenneville doesn't seem worried.

"Certain years you're dealing with all kinds of different situations," he said. "Are certain guys going to be ready for the playoffs?

"No matter what hand we're dealt here, we'll find a way to do everything we can to rectify every situation we have in front of us and be the best we can be."

• Follow John on Twitter @johndietzdh.

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Scouting report

Blackhawks (44-26-7) vs. Winnipeg (31-39-7) at MTS Centre, 7 p.m.

TV: Comcast SportsNet

Radio: WGN 720-AM

The skinny: The Blackhawks just defeated Winnipeg 4-0 on March 18 but will have to beat the Jets this time without Duncan Keith. Winnipeg has lost its last three games but topped the Kings 4-1 on March 24. Dustin Byfuglien scored in that game for his 150th career goal. … Blake Wheeler leads Winnipeg with 69 points and needs 1 more to set a career high. Mark Scheifele, in his third full season, has a career-high 26 goals. … Scott Darling will start his eighth straight game for the Hawks.

Next: Boston Bruins at United Center, 11:30 a.m. Sunday

— John Dietz

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