Matty Duchene talks some pre-season

BY TERRANCE GAVAN – HALIBURTON NEWS.CA

Third year. Third camp.

Haliburton’s Matt Duchene has for the past two seasons backed his talk with the walk.

He’s said that he regards his career as a staircase. Each year a step… some years two.

Get better every year? And one eventually reaches the top of the staircase.

That’s simple stuff right?

Of course it helps to have the requisite gifts. Nice to be trodding up those icy stairs with the will to succeed. Matt Duchene, Haliburton’s Hurricane, is single-minded and has been since he was a tyke.

He made the Colorado Avalanche as an 18 year old. I talked to him before he left for Colorado in that first season. Sometime just after he had been selected third overall in the 2009 MHL Entry Draft.

I asked whether he thought he had a shot at making the team. He said without hesitation: “I’m going to camp to make the team. Obviously.” Now, you might be thinking: “Hey, all kids go into their first camp with that attitude.”

You’d be wrong there. because I’ve interviewed some young guns and asked the same question. Oh, they all answer the question, and it’s always very positive. But most kids I’ve heard, and most kids I’ve talked to always pop positive before adding that quavering waiver. The de rigueur qualifier.

“Well, I’m going there to make the team, and if I play really hard and have a good camp? Who knows?”

Others may give you the old coach’s shuffle. “Well, I feel I’m ready, but we’ve got a lot of talent in camp. It’s up to Coach to make that decision… If I have to go back to junior, well…?”

Back in 2009, when I listened to Matt Duchene’s reply I heard no such hesitation. No quallies. No flinch. Not an inch. Asked about the Brampton Battalion, his old Ontario Hockey League team, Duchene said he wasn’t even thinking about them. He told me that he was focused 100 percent on the rookie camp and then after that? He was going to play himself onto the 2009-10 Colorado Avs at the regular training camp.

Well, the pundits had a field day. They kept waiting for Duchene’s call to coach Joe Sacco’s office. Never came. kid has wheels. Kid has smarts and the kid was… mature. And that’s what probably made the difference. That maturity translates well to the ice. It’s what sets rookies apart. Wheat and chaff.

Here’s the deal. Full disclosure. I thought he’d probably be sent back to the Battalion. I followed the camp closely and put Matt Duchene up on my Google alerts alongside Vancouver Canucks, Cody Hodgson and Colorado Avalanche.

Those four alerts have been filling my email inbox spring summer and fall for the last three years.

The nice thing?

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Avalanche center Matt Duchene against the Dallas Stars in a preseason game Sept. 25. (AAron Ontiveroz, The Denver Post)

I haven’t had to apologize to Matty, because when he said he was there to make the Avs? I was nodding as vigorously as a Don Cherry Bobblehead.

Duchene hasn’t scored a goal in preseason, but Denver Post Avs beat writer Adrian Dater talked to Matty and the third year center does not seem fazed by it.

“I’m really happy with my game right now. I feel like I’m in midseason form already,” Duchene told Dater. “That’s something I’ve never really felt, especially last year. I felt I didn’t have a very good preseason last year. But I’m trying to remove the word preseason from my vocabulary, and just look at it like the regular season has started already.”

Duchene is on step four or five on his NHL quest.

Having skipped a couple in his first two seasons.

He’s had slow scoring starts in his first two seasons.

If he can pop a few goals early in a season? Sky is probably the limit.

Gav@haliburtonnews.ca / twitter.com/terrancegavan[/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]