Colorado Avalanche: Reaction to Matt Duchene PEP Camp Presser

DENVER, CO - FEBRUARY 9: Matt Duchene
DENVER, CO - FEBRUARY 9: Matt Duchene /

Colorado Avalanche center Matt Duchene caused controversy when he spoke about last year’s disastrous season and his future with the team.

Colorado Avalanche center Matt Duchene spoke with the media during a week-long training Power Edge Pro training camp. His words have set off a fervor in Avs Nation.

Some things fans focused on were the fact that he stated he “burned out” in January and that he’s not identifying himself with any specific team.

Ok, let’s do something sports fans hate to do — calm down and look at the whole picture. Concerning the “burned out” comment, he was asked if he’d needed “more of a reset” when the horrible 2016-17 season ended. Here’s his entire answer:

"“Yeah, I burned out in January. I think a lot of guys did. No one really knows how tough that situation was. People look back, and they want to judge you on your numbers. But no one knows what was going on. No one knows what was the situation and how tough it was. It’s been a tough go there. We’ve struggled a lot of years. The last three years we haven’t made the playoffs. We’ve had some years where things were looking up, and that almost gives us some false hope, I guess. Last year… we were out of it by mid-December. So, you play the end of the year out. After playing some big hockey at the beginning of the year for the World Cup, it was really hard. I think a lot of guys probably didn’t handle it the way they wanted to, myself included, but it’s in the past. People want to judge you on it. You’ve got to just use it as motivation because it’s funny how short people’s memories are and they doubt you pretty quick.”"

I know. It’s not pithy. It doesn’t conveniently fit into a headline or a 120-character tweet. But that’s the entirety of Duchene’s controversial comment. Let’s now pick it apart with a cool head.

The part that seems to stick with Colorado Avalanche fans is that Duchene says he burned out. Now, saying he burned out and quit trying are two different things. As Duchene himself points out, people are going to judge him by his numbers, and those were bad all season.

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Everybody’s numbers were bad last season, with the possible exception of rookie Mikko Rantanen.

Here’s the stickler for me, something I’ve mentioned numerous times. Colorado Avalanche general manager Joe Sakic announced in January in an interview with Altitude Radio that the team wasn’t making the playoffs.

Everybody at the time treated it like a “Well, duh,” moment. However, I said then and continue to say now, doing that was wrong. As a GM (or coach) you have to maintain the pretense until the bitter end, until your team is officially eliminated from playoff contention.

Otherwise, what happens? When a team is no longer in the playoff hunt, it’s said they’re playing “meaningless” hockey. And you can talk all you want about how much money they make. You can opine they should play for each other and for the logo. That only works for those last couple weeks of the season, say around 10 games.

Joe Sakic announced halfway through the season, with roughly 41 games remaining, that the players were playing meaningless hockey. It’s no wonder Duchene — and other players — burned out so early.

What’s more, Matt Duchene isn’t proud of that fact. He isn’t making excuses. He went through a tough situation, and he’s being honest about it. You can look at other players’ numbers, such as captain Gabriel Landeskog and phenom Nathan MacKinnon, and suppose they also “didn’t handle [the disappointment] the way they wanted to.”

Here’s the video of his interview:

Moving on to the second point, about Matt Duchene’s identity with the team. Again, let’s look at the full commentary, as told to

"“When you’re in the weight room or you’re on the ice you visualize yourself in a rink or playing with certain players. I’ve almost felt blind this summer because I haven’t really been able to do that.”"

What really set fans off is the following quote:

"“Divorced is a strong word so I wouldn’t say that, but I think I’ve made it so that [any team association] is not part of my identity. My identity will be with a team come training camp. I don’t know what team that is yet, but my identity right now needs to be strong in myself and belief in myself.”"

Unfortunately, there’s no video of this interview, so I don’t know what the exact question was. It’s possible the interviewer introduced the word “divorce” and Duchene is just reacting to that.

Either way, let’s look at this from Matt Duchene’s perspective. For the last almost two years (dating back to October 2015) he’s been the constant focus of trade rumors. Every time he does an interview he gets asked about possibly getting traded. It’s a constant in the media.

Exactly how secure should any player feel in that situation? Why should Duchene visualize himself in a Colorado Avalanche uniform next season when it seems practically no one else does?

Unfortunately, this all suggests a Duchene trade is more likely than ever. The media blew it all out of proportion, making it a foregone conclusion, and now it probably is a foregone conclusion.

Matt Duchene admits that, too:

"“We’re a team that has struggled to find its way. I’m going to be a free agent in two years and things might have to change. They might want to look in a different direction. There are some decisions that have to be made still, but I’m just going to be a bystander of that. We’ll see what happens.”"

He brings up some valid points. The team is struggling, and some things need to change. Duchene will be a free agent in two years. Colorado won’t want to let him walk for nothing, Paul Stastny-style.

Next: Projecting the Biggest Points Producer for 2017-18

I guess our best hope for now is that Matt Duchene starts with the Colorado Avalanche next season. As he says in the interview, he vows to be “the best version” of himself for his team. Hopefully, we see a return to success.

And then the Colorado Avalanche trade him at deadline to a contender. It’s going to hurt to see Dutchy skating with another team. However, adequate return in the trade will lessen the sting.

The Avs won’t get that now, especially after the rapacious media got some quotes out of Matt Duchene that can be twisted and used against him. So, yes, let’s hope Duchene still skates in burgundy and blue next season, even if he’s just on borrowed time.