The World Cup of Hockey is set to get underway this weekend without Blackhawks defenseman Duncan Keith, who won’t play for Team Canada because of a lingering knee issue.
The question now is if Keith will be ready for the start of the Hawks season and general manager Stan Bowman was non-committal Thursday after a news conference for Team North America during World Cup media day at Air Canada Centre in Toronto.
“I try not to put any expectations on it,” said Bowman, who is GM for North America. “I guess we’ll just see. He’ll be ready when he’s ready. It’s nothing to be alarmed about but right now we’re not trying to put time frames on it. We’ll have a better feel once we get into exhibition games and if he’s ready to play, he’ll play.”
Keith had surgery Oct. 20 to repair a meniscus tear in his right knee that he suffered during the 2015 Stanley Cup Final and he missed nearly a month last season. On Aug. 24, Keith withdrew from the World Cup citing the continued recovery of his knee.
Paid Post WHAT’S THIS?
Protect your family from uncertainty.
A Message from Edward Jones
Learn what amount and type of insurance coverage fits your needs.
“It was Duncan’s decision,” Bowman said. “He just didn’t feel he (could) perform to the level that he needs in a tournament like this.
“You have to respect that. He’s doing better. I think time will tell. I haven’t heard any bad news in terms of that. At the end of this tournament we’ll get some updates on his performance.”
The two-time Norris Trophy winner as the NHL’s top defenseman is the Hawks’ workhorse and his absence certainly would affect the team’s depth on the blue line.
“Your first course of action is always just to see wholesale jerseys how it reacts,” Bowman said of Keith’s injury. “You won’t know that until you go through time. Duncan didn’t want to leave Canada high and dry. A lot of our guys have things they played through all year and then nine times out of 10 when they rest up they feel better by training camp. (With) Duncan it just wasn’t up to where he hoped it would be.”
Kruger update: Hawks center Marcus Kruger is expected to be ready for Team Sweden’s tournament opener Sunday against Russia. Kruger left Sweden’s first pre-tournament game with an upper-body injury.
“I’m prepared to play Sunday,” Kruger said. “It’s tough when something like this happens right away. You want to be here playing for your team and your country but at the same time you try to be positive (and) stay patient.”