Duchene faces murky future with Avalanche
DENVER — Matt Duchene didn’t even skate around his situation. The Colorado Avalanche forward simply sidestepped the topic with as much speed as he flashes on the ice.
“I’m here to honour my contract. I’m here out of respect for the fans. I’m here for my teammates,” Duchene said Thursday before retreating from the dressing room.
And that’s how Duchene arrived for the start of training camp as his future with the team remains murky.
His name was floated last season in trade talks, but no deal was struck. General manager Joe Sakic also wasn’t able to move Duchene on draft night or over the rest of the offseason. There’s still no guarantee Duchene will be in the lineup for Colorado on opening night Oct. 5 at the New York Rangers. He remains their best trade chip to acquire a young defenceman.
It’s now a delicate situation for an Avalanche team that doesn’t really need any further distractions. They missed the postseason for a third straight year and finished with just 48 points— the lowest in a full season since 19992000, when the expansion Atlanta Thrashers had 39.
“The important thing is that he is here,” said defenceman Tyson Barrie, who’s also been linked to trade rumours over the last few seasons. “Hopefully after a few days, it can kind of blow over and we’ll get down to playing.”
In his brief time in front of the cameras Thursday, the 26-yearold Duchene added that he had a “great summer of training” and is in “good physical condition.” Duchene has two years left on his contract and will make $6 million this season. Avalanche coach Jared Bednar downplayed the Duchene situation.
“I spoke to him at the end of the year and know it was a tough finish for him. I know things weighed on his mind. I’m on his side,” Bednar said. “I think that organizationally, we want what’s best for Matt.”
The third overall pick in the 2009 draft, Duchene is coming off a season in which he had 18 goals and 23 assists. Bednar is already talking about his plans going forward with Duchene, including playing him at centre.
“He’s a prideful guy. He’s a hard working guy. He’s real good player,” Bednar said. “I expect he’ll come out on the ice (Friday) and today in testing and give it his all — just like he has throughout all his career.”