NEW YORK -- The Colorado Avalanche started their game against the New York Islanders at Barclays Center on Sunday with forward Matt Duchene in uniform, just as they have since the start of the 2009-10 season.
But by the midway point of the first period, Duchene was a former teammate. After months of speculation, he finally was traded, headed to the Ottawa Senators as part of a three-team trade that saw center Kyle Turris sent from Ottawa to the Nashville Predators.
[RELATED: Duchene traded to Senators by Avalanche]
They're certainly sad to see their friend move on, but there's relief that the situation has been resolved.
"The situation itself is weird," captain Gabriel Landeskog said after the 6-4 loss to the Islanders. "To be honest with you, the whole situation right from the start, whenever this whole circus started, it's been weird. So you know, the fact that it ends like this, it's just … you know, it's strange to say the least. I've never seen that happen. But I wish him all the best."
Video: Duchene reacts to trade as he leaves Barclays Center
In return for Duchene, the Avalanche received goaltender Andrew Hammond from the Senators, along with their first-round pick in the 2018 NHL Draft and third-round pick in 2019, and forward Shane Bowers, their first-round pick (No. 28) in the 2017 NHL Draft. Nashville sent the Avalanche a second-round pick in 2018, defenseman Samuel Girard and forward Vladislav Kamenev.
"I'm sure he's relieved," Landeskog said of Duchene, who had 178 goals and 250 assists in 586 games with Colorado after being the third player selected at the 2009 NHL Draft. "I'm sure he's excited. But I think for all the guys that are in this dressing room, our No. 1 focus is on the guys that are here and that want to be here. To be completely honest with you, I don't really know yet what the deal really included. It doesn't really change anything for what we're doing. We're going to still focus on winning hockey games and focus on doing that with the guys that want to be here and the guys that are in this dressing room."
Video: COL@NYI: Rosen breaks down Duchene trade
Despite whatever chaos the constant trade rumors revolving around Duchene created -- there were questions in September about whether he would report to training camp -- the Avalanche are 8-6-0 following the loss Sunday. Now that he's finally been traded, his former teammates feel they can move forward.
"It was definitely the elephant in the room for the first 14 games of the season," forward Nathan MacKinnon said. "It could happen any day. We didn't even know if he was coming to camp or not. But I just want to say Matt did a really good job of being a pro. [Duchene], I thought it was going to be more of a distraction than it was, to be honest with you. He worked hard every day, he went about his business, and he was a good teammate for the first 15 games with a lot on his plate, especially with a couple nights ago, didn't know if he was going to get traded."
"Just funny how it works. Weird is the only word to describe it."
Video: Friedman breaks down the three team trade for Duchene