Duncan Keith pulls out of World Cup to continue rehabbing right knee

Keith will focus on getting ready for the upcoming NHL season instead of representing Canada at the World Cup of Hockey in Toronto.

Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Duncan Keith has pulled out of the 2016 World Cup of Hockey to focus on rehabbing his right knee for the upcoming NHL season, the team announced Wednesday. Blues defenseman Jay Bouwmeester is replacing Keith on Canada’s World Cup roster.

Keith suffered a meniscus tear to his right knee last season and doesn’t want to take any chances just weeks before the start of the 2016-17 season. He only missed a month after undergoing surgery last year, but the extra time off will allow him to continue training and ensure he’s ready for opening night.

“As Duncan continues offseason rehabilitation on the right knee injury that he sustained last season, we understand his decision not to participate in next month’s World Cup of Hockey,” team doctor Michael Terry said in a statement. “We believe it is  in his best interests to focus on getting stronger and not risk further injury.”

The move comes weeks before the World Cup, which is set to begin Sept. 17 in Toronto. Keith had been named to Canada’s roster earlier this year.

In one sense, it’s disappointing that Keith won’t be there for the World Cup, which is being broadcast on ESPN, because he’s one of hockey’s best players. But at the same time, the 33-year-old is also workhorse who’s been put through the grind over the past few years. After returning to action quickly following knee surgery last season, Keith wants to get the most out of offseason. The Hawks unsurprisingly say they support that decision.

Canada should be okay, too. Their group of defensemen now includes Bouwmeester, Drew Doughty, Shea Weber, Jake Muzzin, Alex Pietrangelo, Brent Burns and Marc-Edouard Vlasic.