Matt Duchene: An Avs Fan Dreaming Of A Stanley Cup


About ten years ago, the young teen-aged Matt Duchene slept under framed Patrick Roy and Joe Sakic jerseys. The rest of his room in Haliburton, Ontario, was stuffed with Colorado Avalanche merchandise, too. “Actually, Patrick Roy was my guy when I was younger, so much that I almost changed to be a goalie at first”, said Duchene on his childhood-heroes before the draft in 2009. “But then Sakic and Peter Forsberg were the guys I looked up to and tried to pattern my game after”.

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Growing up in Canada, Duchene learned how to skate when he was four and started playing organized hockey a year later. He says he watched a lot of hockey as a kid — like just about every other Canadian boy — with the Avalanche being his favorite team. When Colorado won their last Stanley Cup, Duchene was ten years old.

Today, little Matt is all grown up. He stands in front of his stall in the Avalanche locker room, his hat on backwards, trying to explain what went wrong this past season. However, despite missing the playoffs, the young leader and fan is surprisingly relaxed. He doesn’t allow the reporters to corner him with their questions. Instead, he answers all of them positively, his head held high. “I honestly think we are closer to a Stanley Cup now than we were at the end of last season”.

Matt Duchene is going to lift the Stanley Cup some day.

Big words from a young man like him. Matt Duchene is famous for taking a lot of responsibility. That’s what the coaches want, and even more importantly, what he thinks he owes himself. Unlike most other young boys, he now has the chance to fulfill every young hockey player’s ultimate dream — win the Stanley Cup as a player of his favourite team. Back in 2009, before the draft, his coach with the OHL’s Brampton Battalion, was always convinced that the then 18-year-old is the right one for the job. “Matt Duchene is going to lift the Stanley Cup some day”, he said. “[…] I think he’s the best all-around player in the draft”. That is of course debatable, with John Tavares carrying the Islanders to the playoffs almost single-handedly, and Victor Hedman being the top-defenseman for one of the Stanley Cup favorites — the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Mar 25, 2015; Edmonton, Alberta, CAN; Colorado Avalanche forward Matt Duchene (9) skates against the Edmonton Oilers at Rexall Place. Mandatory Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports

As the season didn’t start out as imagined, the young center admits that you can easily lose faith as a player. “We play the same as we did last year, do the same things and it just doesn’t pay off”. He further explains that there were “lots of times (during the season) where it was just like ‘wow, this is just maybe not meant to be.”

However, Duchene has an explanation for why the last season has not exactly gone the perfect way. “Sometimes you got to take a step back before you can jump forward.” Wise words that have been proven to be the truth before. But it is not quite that easy. We have seen Edmonton taking back step after step, still waiting for that big jump to finally lift them up the standings again. For the Oilers, 2015 top draft prospect Connor McDavid may force that jump. For the Avs, however, Duchene is one of the most important players that need to step up and carry the rest of the team.

He knows that and it is how he likes it. While other players would enjoy some time off, just go on vacation and forget everything about hockey, Duchene is already planning his off-season workouts and season preparations. For him, the new season begins the day the old one ends. “I almost feel like the season is not over yet. Because there’s so much to gain through the summer and this is just the beginning point.” To him, “it’s chapter two of the new era”. He says that it wasn’t as good as the first chapter, but “we’ll make chapter three really good”.

Matt Duchene grew up a fan of the Avalanche, with Patrick Roy and Joe Sakic being his biggest idols. Today they are his head coach and manager. As exciting as that is for a hockey fan, Duchene knows that he has to carry the team into more successful times very soon, if he wants to please his idols. There are big changes to be made, if the Avalanche want to ensure that their playoff-run doesn’t fall flat again next year.

We don’t know how close they really are to a Stanley Cup, but we sure hope that they are indeed closer than they were last season. And so do the boys that sleep with framed Duchene jerseys hanging on the walls over their beds, dreaming of taking a similar path one day.

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