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10 Questions with Blue Jackets forward Matt Duchene

Deadline acquisition has varied interests off the ice

by Jeff Svoboda @JacketsInsider / BlueJackets.com

Among NHL fans, Matt Duchene needs little introduction. The No. 3 overall pick in the 2009 draft, he's been a scoring centerman pretty much his entire NHL career, and he was one of the prize players available at the trade deadline before being acquired by the Columbus Blue Jackets. 

He's been a solid pickup to this point, with three goals and three assists including his highlight-reel tally that helped the Blue Jackets earn a point at Boston. 

Off the ice, Duchene is a man with varied interests. He's a new father, a musician, an animal lover and much more. 

Video: CBJ@BOS: Duchene powers past defender and scores

To find out more about one of the newest members of the organization, BlueJackets.com sat down last week to talk with Duchene for this edition of 10 Questions. 

1. You and your wife Ashley had your first child, a son named Beau, on Jan. 9. What has fatherhood been like so far? 

Duchene: "It's amazing every day. When you wake up, you're excited to see him. It's hard to leave, I'll tell you that. My favorite place to be usually is the rink. I still love to get here, but it's hard to get out of the house. Once I'm here, I'm good. I enjoy it as much as normal, but leaving the house and leaving him, especially in the mornings, he seems to be at his finest in the mornings, so it's been amazing. It's been really amazing to watch him grow. My wife has done such a good job taking care of him but letting me keep my preparation and get my sleep and everything like that. Obviously you don't get quite as much rest as normal, so you have to manage yourself a little bit more, but the morale boost you get from seeing him every day counteracts that."  

2. Cam Atkinson is also a new father. Have you been able to talk about fatherhood to a guy like him who is going through similar things? 

Duchene: "Early on we talked. Cam has really been great for me so far. He's helped me with a lot of stuff. I'm actually living at his old place that he still has right now. He's got a seven-month-old and mine is two months old, so we're going through the same stuff together. It's fun to talk about the boys." 

3. Speaking of, how is the transition to Ohio going? 

Duchene: "We've been really impressed with the city and had a lot of fun here so far. (Last Wednesday), just to get outside and go for a walk with the dog and the baby and walk down by the river there was pretty nice. We haven't really done anything like that as a family in a while. We're enjoying it. It's been great. Obviously there's been stresses and things to adjust to on and off the ice as a Blue Jacket, but as a human being it's been really easy. People in the city have been really nice, and when we go out to dinner or whatever, people are great. I think the one thing that's blown me away is how strong the fan base is here. I did not realize how passionate the fans are here. It's been something that I didn't expect. It's been fun to meet people around the city and see their passion for our team." 

4. You mentioned your dog, Paisley, there. People seem to love him as well, and he has his own Instagram feed. What can you tell us about him? 

Duchene: "He's a Brittany spaniel. He was our kid before our kid. He still is. It's great. When I'm gone, I miss the crowded bed there with my boy, my wife and my pup. He's awesome. He's such a good dog. Anybody that's met him or seen him thinks he acts more like a person than a dog. He's our other kid. We're blessed to have him."  

5. Why do you wear No. 95? 

Duchene: "No. 9 has always been my number. It's followed me around my whole life; even my son was born on the ninth. When I was born, I weighed nine pounds, nine ounces. I started wearing it because of Maurice Richard. As a young kid, I always loved the hockey sweater, and I watched a movie called 'The Rocket' when it came out, and it meant a lot to me coming from a French Canadian background. Richard was more than just a hockey player, he was a trailblazer for French Canadians, so 9 has always stuck with me. I've worn all different variations on it - 9, 19, 91. When I went to Ottawa, all my numbers were taken, so I had to get creative. I wore No. 5 as a kid because my uncle Newell (Brown), who was one of the original coaches of this franchise back when it started in 2000, he wore No. 5 at some point. So when I was a kid, I wore No. 5 for a while, then switched to No. 9. I combined the two basically when I got traded back to Ottawa. Going back to my home province, I wanted to have something significant - I'm pretty thoughtful when it comes to that stuff -- so I basically put the 9 and the 5 together. I also thought it's a number no one wears. I was like the sixth or seventh guy to wear it in the NHL. It's something that is kind of my own." 

6. On social media, you're pretty big into music. How long have you played guitar? 

Duchene: "Since I was like 15, I think. My dad is a really good musician. He plays three instruments; he can play drums, guitar and bass, and taught me four chords and I took it from there. I took a couple little lessons on the side, but I'm pretty much self-taught. I've been plateaued for a while, and it's tough to play in the season. I didn't bring my guitar with me unfortunately to Columbus. There was no room to bring it. It's more a summer thing. I like to play when I sit down around the fire on a Friday or Saturday night with my friends just hanging around at the cottage. Country music is a huge passion of mine, though. Outside of hockey, that and fishing are my two things." 

7. What's your favorite song to play? 

Duchene: "It always changes, but my song the last calendar year almost has been 'Whiskey Glasses' by Morgan Wallen. That's been really fun. I played that on the NHL feature that I did earlier this year, and Morgan actually reposted it on his Instagram, which is kind of cool. I have a pretty good connection to the country music world. It's been fun to get to know a lot of those guys and also work on it myself a little bit." 

8. You are from Haliburton, Ontario, which is in central Ontario, and always seem to be repping your hometown. Why is that connection so strong for you? 

Duchene: "I'm very passionate about Haliburton. Growing up there, there's 1,500 people in the town and 15,000 people in the county, and the county is really big so it's really sparsely populated. There's almost a lake per person up there, which is amazing. It's beautiful country - cottage country. People are there in the summer all the time. But I think I'm just proud to be from there and have made it. We didn't have the advantages of being close by Toronto. My parents had to drive me an hour and 15 minutes to practice four times a week. You have two or three games a week, and we were driving at minimum an hour every single time. It's something I carry with me. Everyone always supported me back home. I'm just very proud to be from there and to have come out of there. Hockey is a religion there, so it's pretty special." 

9. You're a professional athlete, so you're obviously very talented, but is there a sport or an activity you're just not good at? 

Duchene: "I'm not good at basketball. I can't dance at all, which is weird because I'm good with music. I have an ear for it, but I cannot dance. Dancing is No. 1, but swimming is No. 2. I can swim, but I sink. My hockey legs and ass, they like to sink to the bottom, so I have to battle pretty hard." 

10. You've mentioned your wife has a connection to Ohio with some family from here. How have they reacted since the trade? 

Duchene: "Her mom grew up here and her brother is a diehard Ohio State fan. Her parents actually were up here recently and she took them to go see campus and the stadium and everything. It's been really neat. The three places I've played, Denver is her hometown and where her family is from. Then I get traded to Ottawa, which is three hours away from where I'm from. Then we get here and her family is from here. There's been ties everywhere I've played the last few years, so it's been cool." 

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