Colorado Avalanche: Final Word on Matt Duchene Drama

DENVER, CO - FEBRUARY 21: Matt Duchene
DENVER, CO - FEBRUARY 21: Matt Duchene /

Colorado Avalanche center Matt Duchene deserves a little compassion from the fans because of all he’s done for the team.

Colorado Avalanche center Matt Duchene — and he’s still a center for the Avs — officially showed up to the team training camp. There was some doubt that he would do so because he didn’t come to the captain’s practices or the charity golf tournament. But he showed.

And, of course, the media and some fans continued to turn the Matt Duchene situation into a soap opera. Here are the facts:

  • GM Joe Sakic stated only two players were untouchable trade-wise — and Duchene wasn’t one of them.
  • Trade rumors have been swirling around since October 2015, and have been particularly intense in 2017. That’s two years.
  • In almost every interview the press asks Duchene about being traded.
  • Sakic recently admitted he was actively listening to offers for Matt Duchene.

Matt Duchene has always been known as an intense young man. He’s known for getting into his own head. He takes things very seriously — to the point that he’s been open about visiting a sports psychologist.

And for two years his dream team headed by his formal idol has been trying to get rid of him. And a media to whom he has always been classy is all but howling for his blood. And every syllable he utters is picked apart entirely, and used against him.

Now, it’s easy to say that Duchene signed up for this. He’s a professional athlete, and pros have to deal with such situations. It’s just business. Plus, he’s very well compensated — the majority of us could never aspire to making $6 million a year.

Well, here’s something else Matt Duchene is — he’s human. He’s also relatively young, just 26 years old. And he’s dealing with a very difficult situation.

Have you ever felt like your boss was out to get you? I did once. It was an intense couple of months during which time I sent out my resume and had two job interviews. This was with only bi-weekly meetings with my boss and no one other than family members asking me questions about the situation.

Now, imagine your boss being your formal idol and your company being your dream employer. And imagine enduring rumors that you dream company headed by your former idol wanted to get rid of you — and enduring it for two years.

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So, Duchene’s being less than perfect. Maybe he shouldn’t have been so honest about burning out last January. Maybe he shouldn’t have been so honest about not identifying right now as an Avalanche. Well, I repeat, Matt Duchene is only human.

Here’s the other thing — he’s earned a little latitude. He charmed all of us with his enthusiasm at the draft to become an Avalanche — not just any NHL team, but the Avalanche specifically.

He showed fortitude in accepting a less than ideal bridge contract so that he could show the team his mettle. For most years since his rookie campaign, he’s been the best player on the Colorado Avalanche.

Did he check out a little last January? Probably. You can’t tell me he was the only one — and it’s not like the coach did anything to stop players from doing so.

Yes, Duchene probably should have shown up to the captain’s skate. But there were whole days that I left just late enough that I would be technically on time, but I wouldn’t be early enough to prepare for my day — because I was stressed about being at a job where I was unwanted.

I think the best case scenario would have been for Duchene to show up at the charity golf tournament. It would have been a less charged environment, and media access would have been more controlled.

But maybe the intense young Dutchy didn’t have it in him. As the old saying goes, you can’t squeeze blood from a turnip. And you can’t draw water from a well that’s dry. He may just have not had it in him to be so lighthearted.

Matt Duchene did meet with the media today. Here’s exactly what he said:

"“Guys, to start, I’m not taking any questions right now. I’m here to honor my contract, I’m here for respect of the fans, and I’m here for my teammates. I had a great summer training and I’m in good physical condition, so thanks so much I’ll see you in the next couple days, OK?”"

Pick that apart if you must, but it’s really just Matt Duchene doing the best he can with what’s clearly a painful situation for him.

Here’s the video so you can see for yourself:

We owe it to Dutchy, that sweet young man of the charitable donations and the euphoric smiles on draft day and the best goals totals year after year for the Avs and… everything else he brought to the table. We owe Matt Duchene a flyer if he’s having a little trouble processing so publicly the demise of his Colorado Avalanche dream.