Matt Duchene Trade: The Ball is in his Court


Or the puck is on his stick — whether or not the Matt Duchene trade from the Colorado Avalanche happens depends solely on what he brings the next couple weeks.

In case you haven’t heard, former Denver Post writer — and current Colorado Avalanche soothsayer — Adrian Dater started a wild rumor that sent rumblings through Avs Nation:

Dater goes on to justify his prediction with this:

Now, Adrian Dater may have the inside scoop on the Avalanche after almost two decades of being the team’s beat reporter. It doesn’t, however, mean that what he’s saying will come to pass.

There’s still a chance, see? There’s still a chance.

Why the Matt Duchene Trade Could Happen

4-9-1 — that’s why players’ names are on the trade block. The team was (almost) 100% healthy until Alex Tanguay went down with a knee injury in the 14th game of the season, yet they came out with an even worse record than last year’s injury-plagued season.

Hockey is a team sport. You can never blame just one player. Even if a single play leads to a game-winning goal by the other team, that’s just one play in one game. You can’t blame just one player in a team sport.

Unfortunately, NHL hockey is a big business. It’s not just that KSE wants to make money. Even a giant such as KSE has to answer to the vendors who put faith — and money — into the franchise. People don’t go to the arena to support a losing team. If they’re not there, they can’t buy beer/hot dogs/mini donuts… Money (and mini donuts) makes the world go round.

Now, you can’t blame just one person… unless you have to. Unfortunately, Matt Duchene is the current low-hanging fruit. Let’s face it — he’s not playing up to expectations. Let’s face it, when you’re the franchise player — the basis for the internal “structure” that saw Ryan O’Reilly and Paul Stastny go by the wayside because no one can make more money than you — well, that puts a player under the microscope.

Currently Duchene is ties with two defensemen for points on the team. Granted one of the defensemen is Erik Johnson, but the other one is Nick Holden. (Chew on that for a moment.)

Two more defensemen — Francois Beauchemin and Tyson Barrie — have more points than Matt Duchene. So, too, do all the other top-six guys — including Carl Soderberg, who’s practically not a top-six guy.

In short, brutal honesty, you can’t be the franchise player and put up numbers like that.

Especially when said player put up career numbers during the golden 2013-14 season (70 points in 71 games) and the season was, well, golden.

What Matt Duchene produces matters to the team, in other words.

Which is good news because…

The Matt Duchene Trade Doesn’t Need to Happen

I started fretting on Twitter after the Tampa Bay Lightning win because of this interview from Patrick Roy (3:00 mark):

Coach Roy — who has the last word on player personnel as the VP of hockey operations — called out Matt Duchene for not having had a good game. To me that signified Duchene had lost Roy’s confidence. We saw the same thing happen to P.A. Parenteau.

Now, you’re saying this is a different situation, Duchene’s a much more significant player than Parenteau. Thank goodness, you’re right. Coach Roy doesn’t seem to have given up on Duchene just yet.

Indeed, after that Lightning game (and a loss to the Carolina Hurricanes) Duchene earned three goals and an assist in three games. That came about because Patrick Roy took the time to have a video make up of Duchene’s goals from all his previous seasons. He sat down with Duchene and pointed out how Duchene scored those goals (by hanging around the net).

Those aren’t the actions of a coach who’s totally given up on his star player. Nor has Roy punished Duchene by benching him — he skated for 23:38 against the New York Rangers. No other forward saw quite that much ice time, and only two defensemen (Beauchemin and Barrie) skated for more.

Which brings me back to my original premise — Matt Duchene controls his own fate. The Matt Duchene trade doesn’t happen if the player has a killer road trip. The Matt Duchene trade doesn’t happen if the Colorado Avalanche collect some wins because one of their star players gets hot. The Matt Duchene trade doesn’t happen if Matt Duchene does Matt Duchene.

Dutchy is the most popular Colorado Avalanche player. We all love him. We all want to see him skate in burgundy and blue forever. Hopefully our collective good will is enough to drown out whatever self-doubts might be plaguing his play.

Because there’s no question Matt Duchene has skill and talent. No one wants to see him employing those qualities with another team.

More About Matt Duchene:

Matt Duchene is Getting his Mojo Back

Top 5 Dutchy Goals 2014-15

Matt Duchene, Wannabe Cowboy

TBT: Duchene’s Hat Trick

That’s Our Dutchy!