The calendar just flipped to September, and Matt Duchene isn’t preparing to play center for the Nashville Predators or the Montreal Canadiens or the Columbus Blue Jackets. He hasn’t been swapped for one of several defensemen the Carolina Hurricanes could offer in a trade. He’s not preparing to play on a power play with John Tavares.
No, he’s still a member of the Colorado Avalanche, despite being on the trading block for the entirety of the summer. An entire summer of twisting in the wind while Avalanche GM Joe Sakic sits on his asset and waits for some level of overcompensation to be offered by a suitor.
It’s a business, to be sure, but Duchene has been good for business over the course of 572 games for the Avalanche since 2009. So yeah, he deserves better than this.
Think of it this way: Duchene, if he’s not traded, will show up to camp. The Avalanche will probably be hot garbage this season anyway, but think of it this way: Duchene isn’t showing up to camp to help his team win — although that would be a nice byproduct — but rather showing up to camp to show he’s better than his 18 goals and 23 assists during last year’s dismal campaign. Personal achievement that would, in theory, get Sakic the value he’s seeking.
That’s at least what TSN’s Darren Dreger sees as the holdup, in a recent conversation with WGR in Buffalo (via Mile High Hockey):
I think it’s taking so long because Joe Sakic does, again, have a level of expectation that’s much higher from Matt Duchene than what he produced last year. And Matt Duchene himself has a higher level of expectation of his performance and I’m sure that he’s trained accordingly and vows that he’s going to have much bigger numbers this year moving forward. But if you’re an NHL general manager with interest, and there’s a handful of teams that still remain interested in Duchene, you’re trying to make a deal based on numbers from last year – not projections of what he might be moving forward, or what he’s been in the past, which is a star NHL forward”
So that’s a bummer.
Duchene has taken the high road in the last year, with a “whatever will be will be” outlook, while acknowledging his uphill climb from last season’s pitfall.
“I think right now I’m pretty relaxed, I know whatever’s going to happen is gonna happen. I don’t really have control of it and I’m just worried about being at the top of my game and kind of getting to where I was kind of the first half of last season, before everything kind of fell apart everybody in Colorado. I feel good right now, probably as good as I felt at any point during the year. It is what it is and let it happen,” said Duchene.
Again, he deserves better than this. Deserves better than skating into a hockey purgatory, waiting for his general manager to accept an ante from another team. Waiting for the next step in a career that needs a change in scenery.
We’re getting perilously close to “Free Matt Duchene” territory.
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