Matt Duchene has consistently proven himself to be a key member of the franchise in the seven years since he first donned the Colorado Avalanche sweater. His name is already stamped throughout its record books to prove it.
Many of the team’s offensive statistics columns are headlined by the 25-year-old center. Duchene’s 59 points, six game-winning goals (tied), 57.9 faceoff percentage and 43 takeaways were all tops on the Avalanche’s during the 2015-16 season. His team-high 30 goals were also a career best.
A 30-tally campaign is a feat not easily accomplished. The fact that no Colorado player had done it since 2006-07 when legends Joe Sakic and Milan Hejduk hit the mark serves as a strong testament to the magnitude of that achievement.
And Duchene didn't seem out of place in such elite company. His performance last November had him named the NHL’s Third Star of the month and his numbers again invoked the names of the former Avalanche greats. He was the first to score 11 goals in a single month since Hejduk’s 12 in March 2003 and his point total (20) was the most by an Avs player in November since Sakic’s 22 in 2000.
|Matt Duchene represented the Avalanche at the 2015-16 All-Star Game in Nashville on Jan. 31 (Credit: John Russell/NHLI). |
Duchene’s career totals after last season landed him 11th all time in points (377) and 10th in goals (156) for the franchise. He also appeared in his second NHL All-Star Game and was voted by the fans to the Avs 20th Anniversary Team.
Despite his various accolades, Duchene is more concerned with the team’s success from game to game.
“That’s hard to remember sometimes when you are going through struggles and ups and down and you’re in-season,” Duchene admitted to ColoradoAvalanche.com about his career at the time he was named to the 20th Anniversary Team and the honor to be among some of the best to wear the uniform.
The Haliburton, Ontario, native’s whole-hearted commitment to winning and to the Avalanche made narrowly missing the playoffs last season particularly difficult. However, at the end of the season he did provide reason for optimism going into 2016-17.
"The one thing I will say is that every single guy in here has the right goal at heart and the right motivation and thinks about the right things," he commented. "We have a character group in here. There is not a guy or two guys or three guys when I look around the room and say, 'That guy doesn't have his head in the right place.' I don't think anybody else is saying that about anybody in this room. That is one positive thing. We win and die as a team, and that is how this ended and it sucks, but there is stuff to build on going into next year.”
Now, the forward’s attention is fully fixed on developing further and bringing the Stanley Cup back to Colorado.
“I think that’s the biggest thing (bringing a championship to Denver), but the other thing too is that I don’t stop until I feel that I’m at the top of my game and have maximized my potential,” Duchene said. “I still feel like I have another full step to go.
“When I’m back home in the summer, and I’m running uphill on my road and dying, feeling awful, that’s what I have in the back of my mind. I’m a really driven person.”