Eyes on Cup and captaincy
All-star Duchene wants to add major pieces to “good parts ofmy career”
Matt Duchene is now a two-time NHL all-star with two gold medals in international play. He is on pace to shatter his career-high 27 goals and lead the Avalanche into the playoffs. The right wing is a star.
Compared with some of his buddies in Nashville, Tenn., this weekend, however, Duchene admittedly has a long way to go because he hasn’t come close to winning the Stanley Cup.
“There’s a lot of good parts of my career that I’m very proud of, but there’s a big part missing — a push for a Stanley Cup, and a Stanley Cup, obviously,” Duchene, who leads Colorado with 23 goals and 42 points, said before departing for Music City as the team’s lone all-star. “The nice part is I’ve got a lot of years left. But at the same time, I’m living in the now more than ever because I want to make every second count. You have to put the effort in every day and take advantage of the time you have.”
Duchene, 25, has yet to see the second round of the playoffs and has only advanced to the postseason twice in six seasons. He’s big into leaving his mark on the game, creating a legacy. But all-star appearances and gold medals don’t adequately do that. It’s all about the Cup.
“That’s something I think about a lot,” Duchene said. “I think aboutwhat I’m going to leave behind when I’m gone from the game. I’ve had to make it mean a little less to me because I wouldn’t stay in the moment as much as I should and look too far ahead. I would panic when things weren’t going well and worried too much about 15 or 20 years down the road rather than the next game.”
In Nashville, he is a Central Division teammate with forward Patrick Kane of the Blackhawks, a three-time-Cup champion, in the three-on-three format. Duchene and Kane will oppose Kings defenseman Drew Doughty, who has won the Cup twice.
Duchene and Doughty were teammates for gold medal-winning Canada at the 2014 Olympics. Duchene says he is envious around Kane and Doughty.
“It’s not envious in a badway. It’s healthy. It’s a healthy envious, a healthy look at what it takes,” Duchene said. “Not one of those guys won the Cup by themselves. It was a group that did it.”
The Avalanche (27-22-3) is currently in a wild-card playoff position, although it has played more games than 11 of the other 13 teams in the Western Conference. The Avs have 30 remaining games.
“Hopefully, we’re able to get in. We’re in a good spot right now,” Duchene said. “Hopefully, we can hold where we are and I can get past the first round of the playoffs with this team I’ve been with for seven years, and a team I want to win a Cup with very badly. It’s driving me every day.”
Duchene is a big leader for the Avs. But not as big as he would like. He would like a letter on his chest. Captain Gabe Landeskog’s alternate captains are veteran power forward Jarome Iginla and veteran fourth-line wing Cody McLeod.
“He’s a leader on the ice, there’s no doubt about it,” Avs coach Patrick Roy said of Duchene. “I think he’s learning, coming in and performing, and that’s what he’s been doing this last stretch.” Duchene still seeks a letter. “The guys that are wearing it for us are doing a great job,” Duchene said. “It’s not something I think about much. It’s something I did think about before, and there are reasons earlier in my career why it didn’t happen. It was a maturing process, me learning how to deal with my own stuff — dealing with stuff with the team and keep my edge but still be a good teammate.
“I’m pretty realistic about my strengths andweaknesses. To sum it up, itwould be a huge honor and it’s a goal of mine. But it’s not something I’m dwelling on.”
Matt Duchene talks to the media gathered in Nashville, Tenn., on Friday prior to the All-Star Game.