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Avalanche's Duchene sets sights on World Cup spot

by Mike G. Morreale

NEW YORK -- Colorado Avalanche forward Matt Duchene is looking forward to another opportunity to represent his country at the 2016 World Cup of Hockey.

"I want to be on that Canada team," Duchene said. "I'd be lying if I said it wasn't a goal of mine."

Duchene, 24, discussed the World Cup of Hockey and other topics with during his visit Wednesday to the NHL offices in Manhattan. The Avalanche are in town to play against the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden on Thursday (7 p.m. ET; SN360, ALT, MSG).

Duchene, who was named NHL third star of the month for November after leading the League with 11 goals in 14 games, wants to prove he belongs on the 23-player roster for Team Canada at the World Cup. Training camp is scheduled Sept. 4, 2016 at a location to be determined. It will be a chance for Duchene to add to an already impressive medal collection.

Duchene won a gold medal representing Canada at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, and a gold medal at the 2015 IIHF World Championship in Prague, Czech Republic.

"Making the Olympic team was almost as exciting for me as winning the gold medal," Duchene said. "It's such a tough team to make and there are so many hard decisions and I have so much respect for all of the Canadian guys trying to make that team.

"In today's League, the game changes so much and you could have different players representing their country year-to-year. There are fewer and fewer locks nowadays because of how hard it is to be consistent in the League now."

The first World Cup competition since 2004 will feature national teams from Canada, the United States, Russia, Sweden, Finland and the Czech Republic. Team North America will consist of the top 23-and-under players from the United States and Canada, and Team Europe will feature the top NHL players from those countries not represented by their national teams, including Switzerland, Germany, Slovenia, Austria, Norway, Denmark and Latvia.

"I think the World Cup will be very exciting and the more excitement you can generate on an international level, the better," Duchene said.

Duchene is very familiar with Toronto Maple Leafs coach Mike Babcock, who will serve as coach for Team Canada at the World Cup. Babcock was the coach for Canada at the 2014 Sochi Olympics.

"The system that the coaching staff put in place obviously worked very well," Duchene said. "We went through that tournament pretty seamlessly. It was probably the most dominant team ever put together for an event like that and it was pretty special to be a part of it.

"You can tell [Babcock's] coaching is at the next level and you can see it by the way he carries himself. I can understand why he was so coveted by the Maple Leafs and so coveted by Hockey Canada each time he's available."

Duchene is very curious how the Team North America concept will work out in international hockey.

"They're going to be pretty run-and-gun, dangerous," Duchene said. "Hopefully I get a chance to play against them because there's going to be some talent there. You have Nathan MacKinnon, Connor McDavid, Max Domi; all these kids can play.

"It's funny to be calling them kids too because I'm almost eligible for that team, age-wise."


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