NHL makes an example of Keith with six-game ban


Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Duncan Keith will sit out six games, including the first of the Stanley Cup play-offs, for swinging his stick and striking the face of Minnesota Wild forward Charlie Coyle.

The NHL announced the suspension on Friday.

The incident occurred during the first period of the Blackhawks' 4-1 loss on Tuesday.

Keith and Coyle were competing for a loose puck when the former fell to the ice and from his back swung his stick upward, striking the Wild forward in the nose and drawing blood.

Keith was assessed a match penalty for intent to injure, which carries an automatic one-game ban, at minimum, dependent on a league review.

After an in-person meeting on Thursday, the NHL decided to take it a step further and make an example of Keith, who has a history of indiscretion leading to prior suspensions.

"This is an intentional and retaliatory act of violence by a player with a history of using his stick as a weapon," the league said in a video announcing the suspension.

"He slashes his stick dangerously and violently directly into the face of Coyle."

Keith's last suspension came in 2013 when he missed one play-off game for hitting Los Angeles Kings forward Jeff Carter in the face with his stick.

That was preceded by a five-game ban in 2012 for elbowing Vancouver Canucks star Daniel Sedin in the head.

Keith leads Blackhawks defensemen in points (43) and is seventh in the NHL in average time on ice (25:33).