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Duchene of Avalanche moving on from trade rumors

Center focused on game against Rangers, new season

by Dan Rosen @drosennhl / Senior Writer

NEW YORK -- Center Matt Duchene is ready to open the season with the Colorado Avalanche. He doesn't want to talk about anything else.

Duchene, who has been the subject of trade rumors going back to last season, opened his session with the media after the Avalanche's morning skate Thursday by saying he would only answer questions about the game against the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden (7 p.m. ET; MSG, ALT, NHL.TV).

"Hockey is therapy for a lot of us with things going on in your life," Duchene said. "It's all about playing the game and having fun doing it."

There were doubts that Duchene would make it to opening night with the Avalanche. The prevailing thought around the League is that he would be traded by Colorado. General manager Joe Sakic has admitted he's listening to offers from other teams for Duchene.

Duchene even expressed frustration during the offseason about his situation, telling in August that he didn't identify himself with any team despite having two years remaining on his contract with the Avalanche.

Duchene is still with the Avalanche and will be centering their second line with rookie Alexander Kerfoot and Nail Yakupov on his wings.

"I feel good where I'm at," Duchene said. "I put in a lot of hard work in the summer. Now it's time to go out and just do what I can do, and let what's on the ice do the talking."

Avalanche coach Jared Bednar thinks the cloud of uncertainty surrounding Duchene and his future in Colorado began to lift as the preseason wore on. He said it's not an internal issue with the team.

"I think that it's already started to move past us," Bednar said. "We were dealing with it last year, him especially and the other guys in the room. They're the ones that have to answer the questions every day on it.

"But just coming back this year, Matt's attitude and the way he's handled himself, he said he wants to move on and get this thing going. I feel his teammates have the same type of attitude. Now that we're three weeks into this and getting ready to start the regular season, I'm sure we won't be answering it for long. Our goal is to get out to the start that we want and be competitive every night, and he's a big part of that.

"I'm coaching him. He's here. That's how I'm moving forward."

Avalanche captain Gabriel Landeskog said it's been business as usual for Duchene since the start of training camp. He doesn't see any reason for that to change.

"It's been as normal as I can ever remember it to be," Landeskog said.

Duchene said his focus now is on doing what he can to put what he called the nightmare of last season behind him and the Avalanche. Colorado finished last in the League with 48 points (22-56-4) and Duchene had 12 points in the final 36 games of the season. He finished with NHL career-lows of 41 points (18 goals, 23 assists) and a minus-34 rating in 77 games.

"Last year is lingering in our minds, but at the same time we want to spit it out if that makes sense," Duchene said. "We're anxious to prove what we can do and hopefully have a great start tonight against the Rangers."

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