Duch­ene faces murky fu­ture with Avalanche

The London Free Press - - SPORTS - THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS Duch­ene

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.”

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