Colorado Avalanche: Matt Duchene not on Trade Block

Apr 9, 2016; Denver, CO, USA; Colorado Avalanche center Matt Duchene (9) before the game against the Anaheim Ducks at Pepsi Center. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 9, 2016; Denver, CO, USA; Colorado Avalanche center Matt Duchene (9) before the game against the Anaheim Ducks at Pepsi Center. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports /

Though the Colorado Avalanche may trade a core player during the summer, it’s unlikely to be center Matt Duchene.

The Colorado Avalanche are expected to trade a core player this off-season.

Such a situation is par for the course when a team under-performs as the Colorado Avalanche did. Management has to do something — the very definition of insanity is to keep trying the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.

GM Joe Sakic and head coach Patrick Roy have already previewed that this won’t be the case. During a press conference, Sakic said:

"“We have to see, take a couple of weeks off to reflect, discuss and figure out if these guys want to learn what it takes to win and show it on the ice by playing the right way. For us right now we have to look and see if the players are going to buy into doing what it takes to win, not just trying to do it the easy way.”"

He remarked that even Wayne Gretzy got traded twice, so that suggests no player is untouchable.

Matt Duchene Trade Rumors

Center Matt Duchene has been in the media a lot this season, and it’s perceived that he’s been in coach Roy’s dog house. He started the season very slowly, recording only one goal and one assist in 11 games. In the media, coach Roy expressed some displeasure with his play and suggested he’d like Duchene to be better.

In private, Roy took Duchene aside and showed him his own goals. He showed Duchene how he scored by hovering around the net and told him to drive the net more. Duchene responded by working on that aspect of his game. He told at the time:

"“[Roy] pulled me aside and we watched video; he’s very perceptive in terms of the visual sense and he helped me return to that foundation to what makes me go and what makes me, me.”"

Coach Roy also moved Duchene from his natural center position to wing. Those two interventions helped lead Duchene to an historic month and eventual career season, as well as an All Star appearance. However, in the midst of all that, the Duchene trade rumors started.

At the end of March, the Colorado Avalanche started an internal collapse that led to their losing eight of their last nine games. In the middle of all that, Matt Duchene hit a milestone — he scored 30 goals in a season for the first time in his NHL career.

Unfortunately, the 30th goal came in the last couple minutes in a game the Colorado Avalanche were currently losing 4-0 — Duchene’s goal made it just 4-1 with very little chance of the Avalanche scoring three more goals to tie the game.

Duchene celebrated his goal then calmed himself down when he realized the hopelessness of the situation. Coach Roy, though, vented his frustration in a post-game interview, stating that Duchene had no business celebrating with the team down.

Duchene also acknowledged that he’d had nothing to celebrate. Both the player and the coach stated later that things were fine between them. Duchene told the Denver Post:

"“We talked, I know exactly what [Roy] was getting at, I know what the message was, and I believe in that message. It was a mistake, and we’re moving on from it.”"

However, in the ensuing brouhaha of the season-ending Colorado Avalanche belly flop, the Matt Duchene trade rumors started up again.

More About Matt Duchene:

Matt Duchene Answers Trade Rumors

Duchene’s Manly Goal

Matt Duchene, Wannabe Cowboy

TBT: Duchene’s Hat Trick

That’s Our Dutchy!

Matt Duchene Stanley Cup Attitude

When Patrick Roy became the head coach of the Colorado Avalanche three years ago, he said more than once that he intended to bring a “Stanley Cup attitude” back to the team. I think in our euphoria of one of our player heroes returning, we got warm fuzzies as to what a “Stanley Cup attitude” is. For my part, I just assumed he meant a winning attitude.

I explored in depth what really comprises the type of attitude that brings a Stanley Cup in a previous post:

Related Story: What is a Stanley Cup Attitude?

However, it boils down to the willingness to do absolutely anything to win. I’m not talking having a good game. I’m talking playing through blood and pain. I’m talking about looking in the mirror, acknowledging your faults, and actually doing what’s necessary to change them. I’m talking having an intensity and passion for the game that transcends mere focus but is akin to obsession.

This is what I believe Joe Sakic means when he talks about playing hockey “the right way, not the easy way.”

Matt Duchene, more than any other Colorado Avalanche player, has the Stanley Cup attitude.

I like to “joke” during games that the “Matt Duchene rule” means players get to attack him with impunity. That’s not really the case, but Duchene is definitely the type of skill player who skates around with a target on his back. Well, it’s probably been that way his whole hockey life, and he has responded by playing bigger and grittier than his 5-foot-11, 200-pound size. I’ve seen him go all Peter Forsberg in holding defenders off while effecting a spin-o-rama.

He also plays through the literal blood. Back in November, he took a high stick during a Montreal Canadiens game. When no call came, he responded by scoring a goal with blood dripping down his face:

I also suspect that Matt Duchene has returned from his knee injuries while still in pain. I’m hoping he’s smart enough to do it after there’s a chance that he’ll do more harm, but I’m pretty sure he just plays through the pain.

Duchene was also willing to listen to his coach. He got moved from his natural position. And he thrived. He showed he’s willing to put aside his own ego in the pursuit of team victory.

Matt Duchene is an intense young man. He takes a lot of responsibility on his shoulders. He’s absolutely the type of player who can go full mental.

And he knows that. Three years ago he told the Denver Post that he started seeing a sports psychologist. So many players might just try to “gut through” their feelings, even when it leads to further failures. Instead, Duchene has the gumption to look in the mirror, identify a problem, and fix it with whatever solution is necessary — perceptions be damned.

What’s more, Matt Duchene is the highest-scoring player on the Colorado Avalanche, and he has a very team-friendly contract. The team would have to pay a lot more than Duchene’s $6 million annual to get a player near his caliber.

How could Joe Sakic and Patrick Roy justify trading away a player that best exemplifies their requirements?

The answer is, they couldn’t. Joe Sakic and Patrick Roy are also both men who are willing to do whatever it takes to win — including look past perceived mistakes if a player has made good on them. If a player has shown himself willing to learn.

What’s more, I don’t think that’s even their intention. Remember, rather than trade Matt Duchene away when the team was struggling at the beginning of the season, coach Roy worked with him to make him better.

Even after the goal celebration debacle, Patrick Roy said of Duchene:

"“My conversation with Matt was very simple. I want him to be a leader on this team, and I think that our core needs to be leaders. I’m happy that he understands and supported it. I think this is a great opportunity for him to become a better leader.”"

Indeed, Roy compared Duchene to himself as a player, saying, “I was not perfect when I started at Montreal. I learned from my mistakes, and I think that’s what makes us better.” He also went on to praise Duchene’s willingness to learn.

That doesn’t sound like a player coach Roy has put on the trade block. That sounds like a player he means to groom. And with Duchene’s skill coupled with his team-friendly salary, Sakic doesn’t have much impetus to trade him either.

Next: The Fallacy of Blaming the Coach

It’s well-known that Matt Duchene was excited to come to the Colorado Avalanche above all other teams. He has become one of the most popular players of all time. Those aren’t reasons that would inspire management to keep him on the team. However, it makes us, Avs Nation, grateful that he’s unlikely to be on the trade block.