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Blackhawks' Keith suspended 5 games for elbowing Vancouver's Sedin in head

Friday, March 23, 2012 | 7:52 p.m. CDT

NEW YORK — Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Duncan Keith was suspended for five games without pay by the NHL on Friday for elbowing Vancouver star Daniel Sedin in the head.

Keith lunged at Sedin in the neutral zone in the first period of Chicago's 2-1 overtime victory Wednesday night, hitting Sedin in the head. Sedin didn't have the puck at the time.

Keith was given a minor penalty for elbowing. The suspension will cost him $149,688.

"We respect the league's decision and move forward from this point on and try to renew a playoff position and secure the highest seeding possible," Canucks assistant general manager Laurence Gilman said. "That being said, our priority, obviously, is Daniel's health and well-being."

Sedin missed the Canucks' victory Thursday night in Dallas because of a suspected concussion. He has 30 goals and 37 assists in 72 games this season.

Gilman and a team spokesman declined to update Sedin's condition.

"That's not something we're divulging to the public," Gilman said.

Gilman also declined to discuss what the team thought about the incident and the length of the suspension, adding there was due process in the decision.

"It's time for us to look forward and not look back," he said.

Keith waived his right to an in-person hearing when the league's department of player safety requested he come to New York and had a phone hearing with NHL disciplinarian Brendan Shanahan.

Keith, the Norris Trophy winner two seasons ago, has four goals and 36 assists in 72 games.

Chicago, which has won five straight, has seven regular-season games left, starting Sunday at home against Nashville.

"Regardless of Keith's assertion that the intent on this play was to impede Sedin's progress as opposed to a retaliation for an earlier hit, Keith's hit was still dangerous, reckless and caused injury," Shanahan said, adding at he took into consideration that Keith had never been suspended previously in his seven seasons.

"I've been a pretty standup player on the ice," Keith said Friday before the hearing.

Keith's hit on Sedin came 5 minutes after Sedin's unpenalized hard check of Keith into the boards.

"Everything happens fast," Keith said before the hearing. "Obviously, it's a heated rivalry that has a lot of attention."

The Blackhawks were tied with the Predators with 92 points before Friday and had been playing some of their best hockey of the season, going 9-1-1 in their last 11.

Now they'll be without two of their best players — Keith and center Jonathan Toews, who has missed the last 15 games with a concussion but has been skating recently.


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