"Carney is so smart positionally," said San Jose analyst Drew Remenda. "He's been in the league for so long and he knows the ice. I've always thought that he was one of the most underrated guys in the league because he knows the ice well, knows the angles well, and is a physical player."
This came as no surprise to his teammates, especially the goalies who he helped out all night long.
"What he is able to do out there, most people would never notice," said Jean Sebastien Giguere, his teammate in Anaheim. "He’s always calm and patient with the puck. He never seems to get rattled."
Steady and consistent play were hallmarks of Carney’s career even before he became an NHL pro. For three seasons, the blueliner from Providence, Rhode Island was a major contributor at the University of Maine, logging significant ice time in each of his years with the Black Bears.
Dependable and durable, the strong jawed Carney caught the eye of scouts as the young kid with veteran poise that would be a sought after addition on any NHL club. The Buffalo Sabres got a steal when they picked him 76th overall back in 1988.
So why was Carney passed over until pick No. 76? For the same reasons he was overlooked much of his career.
What he was a dependable and composed defenseman who rarely made a mistake in his own zone. He could be counted on heavily while defending a lead in the third period or in key situations like a penalty kill. Coaches love players like Carney because they know exactly what they will get from him and can trust him to get the job done.
Carney never really had a chance to play in Buffalo but he became a NHL regular in 1994 when he joined the Chicago Blackhawks. Over the next 5 years he established his reputation as a journeyman defender, often pairing along side Chris Chelios.
He would move on to play in Phoenix and Anaheim, where he may have gained his greatest fame for his strong play in the 2003 Stanley Cup playoffs. He made brief appearances in Vancouver, Minnesota and Bern, Switzerland before retiring in 2009.
Keith Carney played in 1018 NHL games, scoring 45 career goals, 183 assists and 228 points.