ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Duncan Keith finally feels at home.
Keith, a defenceman who was born in Winnipeg but moved to Fort Frances, Ont., as a 1-year-old, started his third full NHL season last night as the Chicago Blackhaws took on the Minnesota Wild before a capacity crowd at the Xcel Energy Center.
"The more games you play, the more experience you get and the more confidence you have," said Keith, who finds himself on the Blackhawks top defence pairing with Brent Seabrook. "It's something I've always dreamed about and I'm living the dream right now. It's been awesome every day. I want to get better and make it last as long as I can."
Manitoba continues to remain a part of Keith's life as he tries to get back every off-season.
"I've got a lot of family that lives there still. A lot of uncles, aunts, cousins and my grandma and grandpa," said Keith. "I definitely have a lot of good memories from Lester Beach, which is about an hour outside of Winnipeg, by Grand Beach."
Keith also remembers making the drive from Ontario to attend Winnipeg Jets games when he was a youngster.
"I went to quite a few and I can remember going to see Wayne Gretzky when the Kings were in town," said Keith, who is listed at 6-feet and 187 pounds. "I think he got his 100th point against them or something like that. It was pretty neat to go there as a youngster and now I'm doing the same thing."
Keith, who was the Blackhawks second choice (54th overall) in the 2002 NHL Entry Draft, posted career highs in both assists (29) and points (31) last season while appearing in all 82 games.
Blackhawks head coach Denis Savard says Keith is perfectly suited for the new NHL game that focuses on skill and puck movement.
"He's a guy that plays big for his size," said Savard. "He's got lots of heart, lots of will and lots of ability."