Duncan Keith's NHL retirement to Penticton prompted by love for his son | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

Would you like to subscribe to our newsletter?

Penticton News

Duncan Keith's NHL retirement to Penticton prompted by love for his son

Duncan Keith and nine-year-old son Colton after minor hockey practice at the South Okanagan Events Centre.
Image Credit: Mark Brett, Local Journalism Initiative

When it came right down to it for Duncan Keith, it was a father’s love that was the deciding factor in ending his fairy-tale pro hockey career this past summer after nearly two decades.

His son, Colton, now nine, was born at the halfway point of Keith’s rise to fame and it was their time apart that took its toll on the smooth-skating defenceman who was voted one of the NHL’s 100 greatest players of all time.

That was especially true in the recent pandemic years, when he and Colton sometimes went months without seeing each other.

“I still felt confident in my abilities to play at a high level when I decided to retire but the big thing was the opportunity to spend more time with my son,” said Keith who has moved back to Penticton and shares custody of Colton with his ex-wife.

“I enjoy being around his hockey and his development not just as an athlete but more importantly just as a young boy who is growing up.”

This past July, with his son Colton by his side at the Oilers Hall of Fame Room in Rogers Place in Edmonton, the two-time Norris Trophy (league’s best defenseman) and Conn Smythe Trophy (playoff MVP) winner tearfully announced his retirement.

Keith, 39, spent 16 seasons in Chicago with the Blackhawks, where he helped the club to three Stanley Cups before being traded to the Oilers for the 2020-21 season, his last in the NHL.

Colton was also a big part of the reason Keith went to Edmonton, where other family members also lived.

Keith and his family moved to Penticton when he was 14 and he eventually went on to spend two seasons with the then-Penticton Panthers (now Vees) of the B.C. Junior Hockey League. 

The Vees in November inducted Keith into the club’s Ring of Honour by raising a banner bearing his name to the rafters of the South Okanagan Event Centre.

But his favourite junior hockey memories are from another Penticton ice surface.

“Time has gone by alright, it’s a different era but there’s something about that Memorial Arena and it’s kind of special to have played there,” said Keith. “The ice surface was quite a bit smaller but it’s unique to be able to say I played in that building.”

While everything from equipment to training has changed over the years, he says there’s one thing that hasn’t: That’s the dedication, commitment, discipline and focus that goes along with being a good hockey player or good at anything you want to do in life.”

One of the thing he is most proud of as a result of his career is Keith Relief, an organization he started in 2011 to ease the financial and emotional burdens of people dealing with medical crisis.

That assistance can be seen in action at the OSNS Child and Youth Development Centre, where Colton attended when he was younger and where Keith Relief has made a difference with donations worth hundreds of thousands of dollars.

“They (OSNS) do so much for kids there and I’m fortunate and privileged to be partnered up with them,” he said. “I think Keith Relief can continue to do some good things and help out in the community.

“We have helped a lot of families there (in Chicago) but Penticton is my hometown and obviously everybody here is near and dear to my heart."

After two seasons with the Panthers, Keith spent parts of the next two seasons with Michigan State University and the Kelowna Rockets. He was selected in the second round of the 2002 NHL Entry Draft by the Blackhawks and in 2005-06 played his first season in the big league. 

Former pro hockey great Duncan Keith is now working with the Penticton Minor Hockey Association as an assistant coach.
Former pro hockey great Duncan Keith is now working with the Penticton Minor Hockey Association as an assistant coach.
Image Credit: Mark Brett, Local Journalism Initiative

While he can’t pick one particular event as the highlight of his career, winning two Olympic gold medals is right up there. And over the years, after almost 1,500 games, with so many different players, many of whom became like family, he has memories that will last lifetime.

“Those teammates and the championships that you won and there was a lot of time in between that you got to know people, in hotels, on planes and just sitting on the bus,” said Keith. 

“But then there’s just stepping onto the ice in Chicago, the crowds cheering, it’s pretty surreal. Then parading the (Stanley) Cup around the ice with 20,000 people still there, pictures snapping everywhere.”

Now, for the next chapter in his life, Keith is honing his coaching skills with his older brother, Cameron, with the Penticton Minor Hockey Association U11 development team that Colton plays on.

“I’m very proud of the career and proud of the work that I put in to have that career but I’m at that point in my life where I missed a lot and I don’t want to miss anymore,” said Keith.

“I never wanted to miss it in the first place but you’ve got to make a living – now I’ve got nothing but time. I can be with Colton, I’m loving it and now we don’t have to say goodbye anymore.”

— This story was originally published by the Penticton Herald.

News from © iNFOnews, 2022

  • Popular vernon News
View Site in: Desktop | Mobile