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Avalanche's Duchene brightens bullied girl's day

by Brian Hunter

Colorado Avalanche center Matt Duchene just wanted to find a way to contribute to the flood relief efforts in his hometown of Haliburton, Ontario.

In doing so, he also brightened the life of a young girl struggling with the psychological damage of bullying.

Media reports surfaced in August about how Duchene assisted a father in his community, Wayde Greer, in successfully bidding on an autographed Boston Bruins jersey for his daughter Trista's 11th birthday.

During the Player Media Tour at the NHL offices in Manhattan on Thursday, Duchene revealed to how the heartwarming moment played out.

Avs forward Matt Duchene brightened the life of a young girl struggling with the psychological damage of bullying. (Photo: Michael Martin/NHLI)

"There was a big flood in my hometown recently and myself and [Buffalo Sabres center] Cody Hodgson put on a golf tournament to support the flood relief," Duchene said. "My dad [Vince] pretty much, he had a lot of great help from people, but he did a lot of the heavy lifting with it and we ended up raising $120,000. Most golf tournaments do 30 in my hometown."

Greer, also from Haliburton and according to Duchene instrumental in promoting its rich hockey background, showed up at the tournament having collected $500 he planned on using to bid on the jersey for Trista, a huge Bruins fan whose generally sunny demeanor had been battered by bullying at school.

When bidding on the jersey commenced, it quickly became clear to Greer that the eventual price would far exceed what he could afford. But he had an ally in the room.

"I wanted to donate some of my own money to the flood relief, but I didn't want it to be public," Duchene said. "I didn't want to get up there and be like, 'OK, I'm donating this,' I didn't want that to happen. I wanted it very under the radar, didn't want to embarrass anybody or be a hero or anything like that.

"I heard Wayde was at our table, he started talking about the jersey and how bad he wanted it for his daughter, and I leaned over to my mom [Chris] and said, 'I'm going to make sure he gets it.'

"So he started bidding, and it was an expensive jersey. He had some money collected from family members and it went over that budget, so I just told him to keep going. He was going against a political figure in our community and I told him to keep going, keep going, and then finally we got it."

The jersey ended up selling for $2,000 and Greer was able to give it to his thrilled daughter along with a card that read, "Happy birthday Trista, from your friend Matt Duchene."

"It's a story about giving light back to a child and restoring her faith in herself," Greer wrote in a letter published in the Minden Times on Aug. 7.

Duchene was just happy to be able to play a role.

"It was great. I got to help out him and his daughter, who has obviously gone through some tough times with bullies at school, and I knew about that, and I got to support the flood relief," he said.

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