Colorado Avalanche: Matt Duchene Staying Strong for the Team

NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 05: Matt Duchene
NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 05: Matt Duchene /

The Colorado Avalanche have a disciplined and proud player in center Matt Duchene, who is taking a classy stand against the media.

Colorado Avalanche center Matt Duchene scored the season-opening goal against the New York Rangers in Madison Square Garden. It wasn’t one of his trademark breakaway goals — it was, in fact, and ugly dump-in. However, it was one of the most beautiful Matt Duchene goals for me.

The talented center has been in the middle of a media “distraction” — aka, circus — for almost two years now. It’s been especially intense the entirety of 2017, when Duchene has been everyone’s favorite trade bait. Indeed, it’s not an official trade rumor unless Matt’s name is mentioned.

Well, so much of that was media speculation based on the fact that, before the trade deadline, GM Joe Sakic remarked the only untouchables on the team were Nathan MacKinnon and Mikko Rantanen. The media jumped on the fact that Duchene’s name was left out, even though so was captain Gabriel Landeskog’s, offensive defenseman Tyson Barrie, cornerstone defensman Erik Johnson…

The media continued to whip up the trade rumor until it was almost a foregone conclusion that Duchene wouldn’t be skating for the Colorado Avalanche this season. It was further sensationalized when Duchene said he’d “burned out” in January. The media ignored that he stated “a lot of us did” and changed the meaning of “burned out” from being synonymous with “demoralized” to being synonymous with “checked out.”

Things got worse when Duchene appeared to show reluctance for training camp with the Avalanche. The media then misconstrued his scripted speech:

"“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?”"

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Longtime sports reporters, to whom Duchene has ever been gracious, descended on him like vultures, calling his speech “awkward” (Dater) and remarking that he killed the excitement at camp (Kiszla). They then acted affronted that Duchene refused to speak to them anymore.

Well, Matt Duchene has started speaking to the press again, though I personally wouldn’t have faulted him if he chose to talk only to Avalanche and Altitude TV press. According to Dater, though, Duchene has specified he won’t talk about “anything other than the game.”

But he did talk about the game — even when a reporter tried to dance around the topic he stated specifically he wouldn’t discuss. Some players, like Phil Kessel, might walk off. Duchene just remained stony-faced and waited for the acceptable question (1:45 point).

Here’s video of the presser:

He then went on to put his money — or hockey skills where his mouth is:

Like I said, it’s not the prettiest goal Dutchy has ever scored. But, it was the opening tally for the Colorado Avalanche’s season, and I am so glad Duchene is the one who got it.

Dater talked to Duchene about his goal after the game, and the talented center certainly did look relieved:

I do wish Adrian Dater hadn’t kept talking over Matt Duchene, but it’s still great to see video of a happy Dutchy.

He has made himself widely available to fans after practices to sign memorabilia.  He’s clearly showing to be a good teammate, especially to his linemates Alexander Kerfoot and Nail Yakupov, who himself is no stranger to voracious media.

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I am so proud of Matt Duchene for sticking to his guns. He has restricted media access to himself, and I think that’s the right call. Just because you have a microphone — or smartphone — doesn’t mean you get to badger a player to distraction. He’s there to do a job.

In short, Matt Duchene is doing what he said he’d do — play for the fans and his teammates. This is good news for the Colorado Avalanche.