Duncan Keith made history Saturday night. Fittingly, Brent Seabrook did too.
Keith played in the 1,000th regular-season game when the Blackhawks faced the Blues at the United Center. And Seabrook appeared in his 1,009th game with the Hawks, passing Bob Murray for the most games played by a defenseman in team history.
In warmups, the Hawks wore No. 2 jerseys with KEITH on the back. Keith was honored in a pregame ceremony (emceed by Ed Olczyk) where he was presented with a silver stick by Seabrook and Patrick Sharp, and a painting depicting his career was unveiled by Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane.
“They grew up a little bit right from the outset together and have been a big part of our organization, big part of the success,” coach Joel Quenneville said.
Keith and Seabrook also became the only active teammates to have skated in 1,000 games, and Saturday was their 973rd contest playing in the same game. That total is the most played together by teammates in the regular season among active players, and the most all-time for defensemen.
Perhaps in recognition of the event, Quenneville started Keith and Seabrook together.
Schmaltz vs. Schmaltz
Saturday night was the first regular-season matchup between Hawks center Nick Schmaltz and older brother Jordan Schmaltz, a defenseman for St. Louis. They have faced off in the preseason and also in the AHL… and when they grew up together in Verona, Wisconsin.
“We had a little roller rink downstairs in our house growing up. It would be vs. my sister (Kylie Schmaltz) and my brother. Those were probably the best battles. Someone would usually come up crying or high-stick or puck to the face or something like that,” Nick Schmaltz said. “A lot of good memories. Looking back at it, it was awesome to have that and work on each other’s game and push each other to get better.”
While Nick Schmaltz, 22, has established himself, Saturday was just 24th regular-season game of 25-year-old Jordan’s career and second of the season.
“This is why you sign up playing the game in the first place (is to) reach the highest level,” Jordan Schmaltz said. “And to play against your brother it makes it that much more special.”
Brandon Saad started on the fourth line, while Alexandre Fortin opened with Schmaltz and Kane. Entering Saturday, Saad had only one assist in four games.
Kane looked for the positive of the move, saying Saad can add balance to the lineup on the fourth line and just needs better luck to start scoring. Kane also recalled that he played on the fourth line “a bunch of times” too. The last time, Kane said, was as a center during Game 6 of the 2012 playoffs against Arizona.
“But even before that when I wasn’t producing he’d throw me down there for like a game, and then when you start playing better he moves you up pretty quickly,” Kane said. “But, hey, maybe that’ll help our lineup and maybe it’ll help production across the board.”
Cam Ward, along with Keith and Saad, did not take part in the morning skate but did play. With Ward absent, Corey Crawford got a chance for more participation in the early session.
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