Blackhawks defenseman Duncan Keith returned to Chicago early Tuesday morning to witness the birth of his son, but will be back in Minnesota in time for Game 4 of the Western Conference quarterfinal series against the Wild at Xcel Energy Center.
''I didn't know about that, so that's good news for us,'' captain Jonathan Toews said, when told Keith would be back in time for the game. ''It's nice for him to get that off his mind for the day. He'll probably be playing pretty loose tonight.''
Keith has been an iron man for the Hawks since joining the team in 2005. He has missed just 16 games in eight seasons, only nine because of injury. When he lost seven teeth after getting hit in the mouth with a puck in the second period of Game 4 of the Western Conference semifinals against San Jose in 2010, he missed a few shifts and played more than 12 minutes of the third period to help the Hawks win.
When Keith left this the team early this morning there was a chance he would miss Game 4. He probably will be one of the few who truly appreciates the 8:30 p.m. start.
''Family comes first in situations like that,'' Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said. ''We want him to be there for his first child's birth In this situation, it's an easy decision. We're very happy he was there in time and that it all worked out.
''It's an exciting day for the Keiths. We're encouraged that he'll be here today. So that's good news all the way around.''
Rookie forward Brandon Saad, just 20, was among many teammates wishing the Keiths well. But he also was happy to hear Keith will play tonight.
''It's pretty crazy thinking how young I am, seeing someone having kids,'' Saad said. ''It's an exciting moment for him, but we're looking forward to having him back for tonight. All the best to him.''