Blackhawks' Keith knows there's plenty of work to be done

Duncan Keith scored 2 goals on 187 shots last season.

He finished with a minus-29 rating.

And he played on a Blackhawks team that won just 33 games and missed the playoffs for the first time in 10 years.

Before the Hawks kicked off their 11th annual fan convention at the Hilton Chicago on Friday, Keith - a three-time Stanley Cup-winning defenseman and winner of the Conn Smythe Trophy in 2015 - admitted the losing took a toll on him.

"It was a different year (from what) we've had in the past," Keith said. "A lot of things didn't go our way as a team."

One of those things was losing Corey Crawford for the final 47 games. And as frustrating as that was for Crawford, it was equally tough on his teammates.

"It's frustrating for us too," Keith said. "We never see an update or anything."

Crawford admitted Friday he's still not 100 percent but hopes to be ready for training camp in September.

Meanwhile, the 35-year-old Keith is still the face of the defense.

He's compiled 92 goals and 451 assists in 995 regular-season games and battled in 126 postseason games.

The 2017-18 campaign was a rough one for the future Hall of Famer, and Keith had no problem shouldering "some of the blame" for the Hawks' tailspin in the second half.

Still, he can't make the Hawks winners all by himself.

"Every team's good," he said. "Look around the league - every team's got great players on it now. Every team's got great draft picks. Good goaltending. There's not much of a difference.

"So what is the difference? Why does Washington win (it all)? They had the best team all-around.

"I definitely take some of the blame from last year, knowing that there were certain things I could do better. On the good things, I'll continue to do that. Other things, I'll try to work on and be better at."

Keith's average time on ice (23:50) was his lowest since 2006-07, and it would behoove coach Joel Quenneville to keep it in the 23-24 minute range this season.

Keith might be in world-class shape, but 35 is 35. Overtax him and it's unrealistic to think he can keep up with the speed demons taking over the league.

Bottom line: He needs help.

And it must come from all angles - from inexperienced defensemen like Erik Gustafsson and Jan Rutta; from a veteran like Connor Murphy; from a supposed superstar like Brandon Saad; and, of course, from other 30-somethings like Jonathan Toews, Brent Seabrook and Crawford.

"We have a lot to prove," Keith said. "There's only one team that can say they won the Stanley Cup and can come in as confident as ever.

"Just like any other team, we've got to work. We've got to compete. I think that's where it's going to start - outworking teams. ...

"Worrying about wins and losses at the end, that's not really what we can be worried about. It's about working hard, developing our identity and a foundation, and carrying that through the year."

Twitter: @johndietzdh

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