With a packed house in attendance, Saturday’s scrimmages had a decidedly more energetic feel than the first two days of Blackhawks training camp. Then Duncan Keith really turned up the intensity.
As time wound down in the second scrimmage, Keith and Ben Smith were battling for position in front of Corey Crawford. The battle quickly escalated into a full-blown fight, with Keith pummeling Smith in the crease. Neither player, fortunately, was injured. And neither could really explain the fight.
“It happens,” Smith said. “We’re competitors. We’re out there to compete and work hard. For me, I’m trying to win a spot here, so it’s just one of those things, part of the game. … I figured I’d get on the scoresheet somehow today.”
Said Keith: “I’m just a competitive person. That’s the way I play the game.”
Keith, who’s only had one fight in the previous three seasons, played coy about the surprising scrap. When a reporter pointed out how rare it was to see him fight, Keith deadpanned: “You don’t watch me. I fight off the ice sometimes, but nobody cares about that. I’d get into lots of fights when I was younger. Me and my buddies used to get into fights all the time, but nobody cared about that.”
Then he paused.
“Good one, right?” he said.
Smith isn’t much of a fighter, either, but actually broke his hand in a fight with Rockford last January, just as Hawks training camp was about to open, possibly costing him a chance to make the team.
“I haven’t talked to Duncan yet, but I’m sure we’ll laugh it off later,” Smith said. “It’ll be interesting [Sunday], we play them again. I’m sure we’ll be battling it out a little bit on the boards.”
Hawks coach Joel Quenneville, who has been watching the scrimmages from the press box at Compton Family Ice Arena, said he missed the fight because he was downstairs putting on his skates for the post-scrimmage practice session. But he didn’t seem to mind.
“I heard about it,” he said. “Things like that happen, could be in practice or a scrimmage. I’ve seen more fights than just one in a camp in the past. Some days you see several. It’s all part of it.”