TBT: Colorado Avalanche Pick Matt Duchene in Draft


Center Matt Duchene was the only Colorado Avalanche player to score against the San Jose Sharks in the April 1 game. The tally was his 20th of the season. This year marks the fourth in his six-year career that he’s hit the 20-goal mark.

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What does that have to do with Throwback Thursday? Very simple — I remember when Duchene was a rookie.

The Colorado Avalanche selected Matt Duchene with their third-overall draft pick. At the time, it was the highest ever draft pick they’d ever had. Of course, the Avs would go on the have the second-overall (Gabriel Landeskog, 2011) and first-overall (Nathan MacKinnon, 2013). In 2009, though, third-overall was the highest the Avs had ever chosen.

By now Matt Duchene’s draft is legendary. He was in a talented draft class. His name was one of those bandied about for top-five — maybe even top-two. Duchene, however, didn’t want to go top-two. He had been a Colorado Avalanche fan since he was a kid, and he wanted to play for the team he’d always loved.

That year the New York Islanders had the #1 draft pick. They selected the #1 North American prospect, John Tavares.

In the video  below you can see Matt Duchene sincerely congratulating Tavares before snickering that John left the cardboard in the Islander’s hat. “I’m taking that out right away. That’s going straight on the stage,” he crows to his mom.

Next up were the Tampa Bay Lightning. Then-hockey analyst Brian Burke had predicted that Duchene could go first overall. He was the #2 North American prospect. It wasn’t unreasonable to think Dutchy could get drafted by the Lightning.

In the video, you can see him purposely keeping a neutral face. However, as soon as the Lightning announce that their pick is from Moto Sweden, Duchene relaxes and declares several times, “Yes!” He was waiting for the third-overall pick, you see.

As if his desires weren’t clear enough, watch as Dutchy is nervously bouncing and tapping his knee while asking, “Is Colorado coming up here, or are they just going to chill?”

Of course, by now we know that, whether they chilled first or not, the Colorado Avalanche selected Matt Duchene with their first-round draft pick.

Concerning the cardboard insert, I think Dutchy does pull it out before putting the hat on. The funny part is, he puts the hat on before the jersey, and Commissioner Gary Bettman has to remind him to take it off before attempting to pull the jersey over his head.

View image | gettyimages.com

I was actually at Matt Duchene’s debut game. I hadn’t really paid much attention to the draft, but a seatmate remarked, “I can’t wait to see what Matt Duchene does.”

Well, he didn’t do a ton that night, though he did earn an assist on a power play goal by defenseman John Michael Liles. However, Duchene’s done a lot since then. The NHL doesn’t have “franchise players” in the manner that the NFL does, but if they did, I am certain Avs GM Joe Sakic would name Duchene in that category. After all, the internal salary structure is based on what Duchene makes.

Dutchy’s all grown up now — a respectable 24 years old. A man who has played in six NHL seasons and even won an Olympic gold medal.

However, despite his new hipster pompadour hairstyle (watch pre-game skates) and his tight suit pants that show off his socks (charity brunch) a part of me will always see Matt Duchene as that bright-eyed kid with the ecstatic smile who gleefully chirped a friend about a hat before committing his own cap faux pas. The kid who crowed that he wasn’t selected second-overall because that left him free to get chosen by his childhood idols, the Colorado Avalanche.

So, on this throwback Thursday, a day after Dutchy made the milestone of another 20-goal season, let’s take a moment to celebrate the kid that was.

Next: Duchene and O'Reilly as Rookies

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