Duncan Keith waives in-person hearing on suspension, has phone hearing Friday

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CHICAGO  - Last year he played in the spring injured and helped the Blackhawks' earn professional hockey's greatest prize.

In 2016, his perceived intent to hurt another player could keep him out of the team's early part of their Stanley Cup defense.

But for the Blackhawks defenseman, Thursday came and went without any word of a suspension from the NHL. Around midnight central time the NHL Player Safety committee tweeted that Keith waived his right to an in person hearing and has instead opted for a phone hearing on Friday afternoon.

For sure Keith is out for Friday's game against the Jets in Winnipeg per his match penalty on Tuesday night in Minnesota which stipulates that he is suspended indefinitely until the league rules on final discipline.

Still a long penalty for the Blackhawks defenseman is likely considering his action in the first period of the Blackhawks' 4-1 loss to the Wild at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul.

After getting knocked to the ground Keith swung his stick towards the face of Minnesota's Charlie Coyle and caused a cut. Since it was determined to be intentional, per NHL rules Keith was immediately suspended indefinitely until the league made a final ruling.

Despite missing nearly a month after a knee procedure in October, Keith has still enjoyed a solid season with nine goals and 34 assists in 67 games.

This is not the first time Keith has been punished by the league for illegal contact during a game. In 2012 Keith was suspended for five games after an elbow to the head of the Canucks' Daniel Sedin. During the Western Conference Finals a year later Keith was given a one-game suspension when he hit the Kings' Jeff Carter with his stick in the chin causing a laceration that required 20 stitches to close.

A three-time All-Star and two-time James Norris Trophy winner for NHL's best defenseman, Keith was critical to three Blackhawks' Stanley Cup titles since 2010. Last season he was named the Conn Smythe Trophy winner as playoffs MVP in helping the team to a title with postseason wins over Nashville, Minnesota, Anaheim and Tampa Bay.

Keith has been with the Blackhawks organization since they took him in the second round of the 2002 NHL Entry Draft. He made his debut with the team in 2005.

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