SAN JOSE, Calif. -- Sharks assistant coach Trent Yawney wishes nothing but the best for Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook and Patrick Sharp -- three of his former players and three of the best.
Yawney spent more than a decade in the Hawks organization as a player, minor-league coach, assistant coach and head coach. Yawney, a former defenseman, played a key role in the development of Keith and Seabrook.
"I don't know if I saw the Norris Trophy in terms of Duncan Keith's immediate future," Yawney said. "Dunc deserves a lot of credit for his ability to take in information and apply it to his game. Everybody sees his skill, but he's a tremendous, tremendous hard worker. Seabrook and him really complement each other ... They really work well together.
"Brent's a great passer of the puck. He can slow the game down to his pace. He's got that first pass ability where he can spring someone with one pass. Obviously, Dunc, as everyone knows, has got the quickness. But he's a really, really good defender. He takes away ice better than most in the league and now he's added the offensive side to his game. He's the whole package."
Yawney said that "being biased, yeah" Keith would get his vote for the Norris Trophy (if he had one) over Washington's Mike Green and Los Angeles' Drew Doughty. With that in mind, he's happy to see both of Keith and Seabrook, whom he coached with Hawks during the 2005-06 and 2006-07 seasons, emerge into stars.
"As much as you are on the opposition, you want to see some of the players that you've had in the past succeed," Yawney said. "Both [Keith] and Brent have really elevated their games. They broke in when it was a tough game. When they broke in, they were young players trying to find their way around the league and we weren't winning a whole lot. They had to survive on their own and learn the league.
"As an organization, we had to make sure they didn't get bruised or anything like that in terms of making them go backwards. All the credit goes to them, they're tremendous people and they deserve the success they've had."
The same goes for Sharp, who was acquired from Philadelphia when Yawney was the Hawks coach. The winger/center credited Yawney recently for helping him emerge as a sound two-way played in the NHL.
Yawney always knew Sharp had it in him.
"I coached against Sharpy when he was in Philly in the minors, obviously a very gifted player and goal scorer," Yawney said. "I remember when he was acquired ... that was the first time he was traded and it was tough. It was tough for him. He had come up through the Philadelphia system. They had won a Calder Cup there. He had been with a group of players. He may have wanted his role expanded a little bit but it wasn't happening and he was on a good team.
"Then he came to us. We automatically elevated his minutes. He was going to become more of an offensive player. He missed a lot of opportunities early, I remember that. He was frustrated because he wasn't scoring and he wanted to do well and kind of justify being traded to the Blackhawks. He's a guy that's persevered too through some times too [in Chicago] early in lean years. He's a real good man. Like I said about Dunc and Seabrook, he's another guy who you want to see have success. I just hope it's not too much against us."