It’s likely that if general manager Joe Sakic had his way, center Matt Duchene would have been traded long before November. The 26-year-old had requested a trade from the Avalanche back in December 2016, nearly a full year from when Duchene was dealt to the Senators in a three-way trade.
That meant that Duchene spent at least 10 months with the Avalanche on a lame-duck team. The trade request wasn’t a secret, and before long all the players and coaches across the NHL knew Duchene wanted out of Colorado.
While Duchene’s comments about his former team after leaving the Colorado dressing room for the final time were good-natured and cordial, his teammates’ were a bit more on the cooler side.
Landeskog post-trade: "We're going to still focus on winning hockey games and focus on doing that with the guys that want to be here."— Stephen Whyno (@SWhyno) November 6, 2017
Erik Johnson on Duchene: “He didn’t want to be here”— Adrian Dater (@adater) November 6, 2017
Erik Johnson’s comments are a bit more insightful in his talk with BSN Denver after Colorado’s loss in New York Sunday evening.
“For a guy who didn’t want to be here, he showed up every day and worked hard and had a good attitude,” Johnson said to reporter Adrian Dater. “But at the end of the day, we all want to play for the Colorado Avalanche and do great things here. And, he didn’t.”
Also speaking to BSN Denver was 26-year-old defenseman Tyson Barrie:
“Obviously, it’s no secret that (a trade) was something he wanted,” Barrie said. “So, I think it’s probably good to put that behind us. We’re moving on. We wish him the best and it sounds like we got some good pieces coming back, so we’re excited to meet these new guys.”
While Duchene’s comments of the trade being “part of the business” are true, clearly his stay with the team after deciding he wanted out last December ruffled feathers. The situation was a tough one all around, as while Duchene wanted to get a fresh start, he was at the mercy of his general manager.
“That was a long year,” Duchene said to The Denver Post. “A long couple of years really. There were rumors about this starting in the fall of 2015. So, I mean, I’m relieved it’s over. But I’m thankful for my new destination and I’m thankful for being an Av.”
However, it’s understandable that teammates of Duchene would have been wary of his commitment to the team after he requested a trade. After all, going to work with a person you know is looking toward greener pastures every day changes a locker room atmosphere.
Maybe the person in the most unenviable position was Sakic himself, who had to balance out Duchene’s needs, the team’s morale on the situation, and find a suitable return for his star center at the same time.
All sides, however, have seemingly found the light at the end of the tunnel thanks to this trade. Duchene will get his fresh start, and the Avalanche will move on with their new teammates. It may have taken an extremely awkward 10 or so months to get here, but it’s finally time to move on.