Puck Daddy - NHL

On Tuesday's edition of Puck Daddy Radio on The Score Sirius 98, Pizzo and I chatted with Matt Duchene(notes), the all-star center for the Colorado Avalanche and one half of our favorite postgame victory dance.

We touched on a number of topics in the interview, from his push for career-best stats to the state of the Colorado Avalanche locker room to the New York Islanders nearly drafting him in 2009 to the NHL All-Star Game Fantasy Draft. Here's the full interview (stick-tap to Hainser for the audio):

Matt Duchene of the Avs on Puck Daddy Radio (1/18) from Greg Wyshynski on Vimeo.

Now, some choice excerpts from our 10-minute chat with Duchene:

Q. You're six goals away from a career high. Six assists away from a career high. Twelve points away from a career high ... and you're halfway through the season. Are you just feeling a lot more confident this season?

DUCHENE: Every year you want to get better at everything. If you do that, then the points are going to follow. So I really try not to think about it as much as I can. I try to do the little things out there and that leads to point production and scoring. That's my mindset. If I can just go out there and focus on helping the team win, I might end up with a couple of points.

Q. A couple of days ago, [Denver Post writer] Adrian Dater said he was in your dressing room and he didn't know what it was, but felt as though the team chemistry wasn't there.  Is there any truth to that at all, that people are playing more for themselves than for the team?

Not at all, and I'm surprised he'd say that. We're one of the tightest-knit groups I've ever seen. I think some of the chemistry's been thrown off on the ice a little but because of injuries. We're still getting guys back, still losing guys. That can really mess with the chemistry a little bit.

It's nothing to do with in the locker room at all. As a group, we're so close, have a ton of fun together. I'm not quite sure where that's coming from, but it's a vibe that he got and he's entitled to his opinion -- he's usually right about a lot of things. But in this case, I'm not concerned about that at all.

Q. Right before you were drafted, there was this report that the New York Islanders were going to take you first overall. Do you ever thank the Hockey Gods that you're not an Islander?

[Laughs] At that point in my career, I just wanted to go anywhere. I really didn't care. Obviously, I always had my cap kinda tipped towards the Avalanche, because I was a fan growing up and it'd be really cool follow in the footsteps of my idols.

But everyone has their own situation that they're comfortable in. I know John and on Long Island, he's comfortable there and doing well. He loves it. We've developed a friendship over the course of that draft. I absolutely love it here in Denver.

It turned out the way it should have. The Hockey Gods made a good move on that one. I'm thankful every day that I ended up here.

What's your take on the NHL All-Star Game Fantasy Draft?

I haven't really talked to too many people about it, but I think it's a really good idea. When you're a kid and you're on the pond and you pick two captains ... for me, it was at school and we were playing mini-sticks out in the yard, you'd have two captains and they pick the teams.

There's a competitive nature that all kids and men have to beat the other team.

With this, you're not assigned to the team. It's someone taking pride and making picks. I think it'll be a little more competitive game. The skills competition will be a little bit more competitive too because guys are taking pride in their team. They're going to want to do well for the guy that picked them.

I'm really not concerned where I go. They could pick me last and I really wouldn't care. [Laughs]

There's a very good chance you could end up on Team Lidstrom. A Detroit Red Wings player captaining an Avalanche player ... are you worried about having to fetch his slippers and that sort of thing?

[Laughs] That would be pretty funny just caus' he was a guy that was in the wars between Colorado and Detroit back in the late '90s there, and I was 5 or 6 years old watching it on TV.

It's gonna be pretty funny to talk about that with him if I get to be on the same team with him. I would be pretty funny to be teammates for a game. But thank God we're done playing them, so I won't owe him anything. 

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