Look, I’m on record already: It will be way, way too uncomfortable a situation if Matt Duchene somehow winds up in training camp, still a member of the Colorado Avalanche. He’s going to feel like Oliver Twist, after being paraded around town by Mr. Bumble singing “Boy For Sale.”

In this case, Mr. Bumble (Joe Sakic) is still walking poor Oliver (Duchene) around town, searching for the best offer on a new home for the youngster. We’re almost into July now, and the Avs still don’t have an offer that suits Sakic.

First off, one item: I linked to a story from Newsday yesterday, which said Sakic was presented with the following offer for Duchene at the NHL draft in Chicago: Defenseman Travis Hamonic and the Islanders’ first-round pick in the 2018 draft, but that Sakic said no. The story also said Duchene’s agent, Pat Brisson, is “seriously unhappy with Sakic’s foot-dragging on a deal.”

Sakic was then roasted anew by many on Twitter for turning down such an offer. Even mild-mannered, well-respected TSN reporter Darren Dreger blasted Sakic and the Avs in general for not doing enough to make changes this summer following a 48-point season.

I’ve done some of my own calling around since, and my sources are saying the bulk of that report is untrue. While Hamonic may have been offered, an additional first-round pick was not. I’m also hearing that the characterization of Brisson being seriously unhappy is well overblown. Brisson, though, has not responded to me for requests to comment.

I certainly get it: Fans are frustrated at the lack of a deal. The media assigned to cover this story are frustrated at the lack of a deal. Duchene, Sakic, and other GMs are probably frustrated at the lack of a deal.

But I want to bring up a situation that happened a few years ago in Columbus, a story that has a very tangible connection to the Avs of today. It’s a story of the value of patience.

At the February trade deadline in the 2011-12 NHL season, everybody in the sport expected Rick Nash to be traded by the Columbus Blue Jackets. While a few teams were mentioned, the New York Rangers were said to be the favorites and that a deal would be consummated ex post facto.

Well, the trade did not happen at the deadline. The Blue Jackets didn’t think the offers were good enough for their young first-line forward, so they waited for the price to come up. And they waited. And waited. And waited.

Finally, on July 23, 2012, way after the draft and free agency had already taken place and approximately 43,420 “insider” rumors that had Nash already dealt away, the Blue Jackets and Rangers finally had a deal. For Nash and a couple minor throw-ins, the Jackets got Brandon Dubinsky, Artem Anisimov, Tim Erixon and the Rangers’ first-round pick in 2013.

By waiting the Rangers out, the Jackets got a fine return. Dubinsky remains with the team today, an important player on a rising squad. Anisimov played three years in Columbus before going to Chicago in a deal that helped land Brandon Saad (who since has been traded back to Chicago in a deal that landed Artemi Panarin). Tim Erixon never quite panned out, and that 2013 first-round pick turned out to be Marko Dano, who has not been a superstar, but a pretty good player who helped net Saad in that first package deal with Chicago.

All in all, a pretty good return for a star forward who didn’t want to be with his team anymore, which hurt his team’s leverage in trade talks. Fans and media were screaming at Columbus management for months to “make the deal already!”, but their patience finally paid off.

As recounted by Jackets Columbus Dispatch beat writer extraordinaire Aaron Portzline for BSNDenver:

It took almost five months, but felt like five years. But credit to GM Scott Howson and AGM Chris MacFarland for setting their demands — a first-round pick and a major asset (or two) at center ice. The Rangers were one of the only teams that could meet that requirement, so the Jackets essentially waited them out. It would have been easy to cave and just get it over with, because the fan base was agitated. But they took plenty of bullets and did what they thought was best for the organization.

Did you catch one of those names listed by Portzline? That Chris MacFarland, assistant GM in Columbus in 2012, is the same Chris MacFarland, assistant GM of the Avs in 2017. While MacFarland rarely talks to the media, his involvement in this Duchene saga is considerable. He knows from experience, the value of waiting for the right deal. Sooner or later, a team is going to need a still-young, top-six forward with a pretty decent cap number and they are going to keep looking toward the Avs and Duchene.

Now, maybe it’s possible the Avs will never get any offers as good as they might have already gotten for Duchene. Maybe Sakic, MacFarland and Co. in the Avs’ C-Suite really will mess this thing up. Maybe they are forced to keep Duchene going into a new season, and it’s every bit the distraction-filled mess we think it might become.

But maybe, just maybe, a team later this summer, knowing it doesn’t have quite enough offense to compete for the Cup they feel they’re close to getting, calls the Avs and ups their previous offer to get Duchene. Or maybe, Duchene comes back to Colorado, lights it up in the first half and greatly increases his value again. Or maybe, just maybe, Duchene comes back to Denver, lights it up, the Avs become winners again and we all live here happily ever after.

Look, a guy can dream at least.

Yeah, it’s frustrating right now and people just want something done already. But this story could easily still have a happy ending for the Avalanche.

If everybody just stays patient.


Adrian Dater

Adrian Dater is a staff writer with BSNDenver. He started his journalism career way, way back in 1988 as a proofreader with the Concord Monitor as a kid out of college (Keene State College), and has wended its way since with a 25-year stop at The Denver Post, 20 of which were spent as the beat writer of the Colorado Avalanche, from its inception in 1995. Adrian has also worked as a primary hockey writer with Sports Illustrated, The Sporting News, The Hockey News, Versus.com and Bleacher Report. He is the author of seven sports books, including the best-selling “Blood Feud: Colorado Avalanche v. Detroit Red Wings, The Inside Story of Pro Sports’ Nastiest and Best Rivalry of Its Era” and “100 Things Avalanche Fans Should Know and Do Before They Die”, which was published in October, 2016.

  • chargerco

    Love this take. It’s summer, we all are clamoring for hockey news.
    If he had been traded we would have moved on to something else and
    started to realize how much we missed him as a player. No one is
    perfect or the same and that includes Duchene.

    For all his perceived faults I remember many years where he was by far
    the best player and every shift he worked his ass off. He does need to
    make some adjustments and come at things with a fresh start. I always
    recommend meditation. It really helps. I know everyone loved to bag
    on Ryan O’Reilly’s Dad but he did have some excellent advice for being
    in the moment.

    That being said if he is traded you know he will explode. I don’t care about
    his stats last year. Look at the entire team. Almost every single Av had career worst
    scoring years, except Rantanen of course. Imagine Rantanen in a system that
    allowed him to be more creative.

    The question we should be asking is Bednar the issue. You can’t not put
    last year on him. You can say all you want about his system knowledge
    which is good however if he can’t communicate with the team or handle NHL
    in game adjustments then it does not work. Maybe he does better this year?
    I sure hope so.

  • WorkingMan

    Nice to see someone preaching patience. Duchene is a very good hockey player, is very young and up until all these crazy trade rumors it’s my understanding that he loved Colorado. If some team thinks they can low ball the Avs and pressure them into selling low on a huge asset they are mistaken. You can’t trade the face of the franchise for 50 cents on the dollar just because the media expects a deal.

    Best case scenario is that Sakic gives up on a trade, has a heart to heart with Duchene that involves an apology for dragging this on. They patch things up and Duchene leads the resurgence for the Avs.

  • bob_w

    I hope Sakic continues to hold out for the full measure of what they are asking for Duchene. He can be the 30 goal scorer of 2 seasons ago and he is a top faceoff artist. Those are qualities that make other teams salivate and it is likely one will come around. If he isn’t traded i would bet that he comes back with the attitude that he has something to prove and that would be just a good for the Avs. Personally I prefer that he stays but if he goes let’s get everything we can for him.

    • jpwheels

      Agree with everything you’ve said.
      But the big question, in my mind, is can he a 30 goal scorer again with the Avs?
      I’m starting to think that’s unlikely. I believe he’s so mentally beat up from being on the trading block the last two years that he simply can’t perform up to his talent level.

      • bob_w

        For me, based upon hid past interactions with the media he seems like he is tough enough to handle the situation. Really how he handled himself and the adversity of this season is all we have to go by. I would expect him to come in very motivated and determined to show that last season was a fluke.

  • MikeL

    I hope he stays. you don’t get better trading one of your best players. Trades at best don’t solve problems. You’re trading knowns for unknowns. the only time you trade is if you’re going to lose the player for nothing like Stas or ROR or the player is not productive.

  • boratbuff

    I love ya Dater, but listening to the podcast from Monday, you’re the one that was freaking out that Duchene hadn’t been traded yet, much more so than the fans. I think you need the deep breath more than anyone. Physician, heal thyself.

    • Adrian Dater

      That’s fair. This column was directed at myself as much as anyone!

      • murphy mcbayne

        Pretty much the only writer who admits when he was wrong! Lie to me and tell me we still have a shot at Hanifin

  • jpwheels

    I’ve been a big advocate of Keeping Duchene all along. To me, getting rid of a proven goal scorer and going with kids who have yet to prove anything in the NHL is a set up for more failure. Yeah, I know — 48 point season….it can’t get any worse, can it? Maybe not worse, but that struggle can be prolonged waiting for the young guns to grow and mature into the players the Avs need. And some of them may never get there.
    I’m still supportive of Duchene being an Av. But he (and everyone else) needs the guy that can put in 30 goals or more.
    We all know Dutchy struggles with confidence issues that compound the scoring drought that starts him questioning himself. And I’m really starting to wonder if he no longer trusts folks in management. Because without trust and belief in them, I’m really starting to wonder if we’d ever see the player he was a couple of years ago or can be in the future.

  • Mczoo2

    Nice to hear that I’m not alone in my hope that Joe approaches Duch and has a “mea culpa” talk with the player who has always bought into everything Colorado. His game certainly suffered due to the shenanigans of being shopped so hard. Definitely not the type of player who responds positively to negative stimuli, and also one of the few who would be willing reconsile.

    • david 1.982k

      Why would Sakic apologize? That’s insanity. This franchise has been in a tailspin since Duchene returned from injury in that Wild series in 2014. If Duchene can’t cope with negative stimuli, he picked the wrong profession, in fact, he should probably just retire, since we all have to overcome shit that doesn’t go our way at times, be a fucking man Dutchy! When it happens to me, I just put my head down, stay calm, and go hard as a motherfucker ’til it passes, and I’m not a professional athlete. If this is even remotely true, I’ve lost all respect for the guy, because he’s a mental midget and needs to grow up. It’s as simple as this Matty D, if you’re going through hell, keep going! GO AVS!

      • jpwheels

        Saying someone should commit suicide?…really??? That is juvenile (at best) and absolutely uncalled for. You need to back off with that kind of language.

  • crewm

    One BIG difference. Nash had 6 years left on his contract in 2012, Duchene has 2. Yes, there might be a team that ups their offer in the summer, but after that MD’s value isn’t going up by much. Let’s not forget what happened when we were patient with O’Reilly.

  • OCMS

    The problem is that Duchene’s stock is falling not rising. As you guys discussed on the podcast, his dismal performance at Worlds was a major problem. If he stays on the team, the gamble is that he will have a bounce back season and his value will increase probably to where Sakic has been holding out for. That’s a big gamble, because if the Avs are out of the playoffs again early on, then Duchene will go back down the rabbit hole. Then we’ll be looking at a guy who has 1-year remaining on his contract until UFA status and that hurts his value. Then Duchene can just wait until July 1 2019 and know he’ll get overpaid by some GM.

    I think Sakic is trying to save/justify himself as a GM with this one trade. He wants to walk away with the entire hockey world praising him for what he got for Duchene in return.

  • Fivefingers

    He’s getting traded, guaranteed. The relationship is sour and it doesn’t make any sense to keep him. He has 2 years at 6M and we can get young guys for cheaper and if we keep him he will get at least 6 again which makes no sense on a rebuilding team. Plus, he’ll be 30 by the time we have a shot at the playoffs so who cares? Sakic is an idiot.

  • tietj29

    The Islanders offered 3 assets, not two. I think Staple, who covers the Islanders, has better sources than you about what the Islanders offered (no offense). He said the Islanders also offered a prospect not named Barzal. If the third player was Pulock, Ho-Sang, Beauviller, Toews, Soderstrom, or Sorokin then Sakic may have made a mistake because the Islanders have moved on at this point. IMO, including Barzal, Pulock, Soderstrom or Sorokin would be a deal breaker (along with Hamoni and a 1st) for me.
    We do have 4 picks in the first two rounds in what is expected to be a deep draft next year and a some really good prospects if Sakic is still interested to come back to us. https://twitter.com/StapeNewsday/status/880426882310840320

    • FlapJack

      Dater’s not perfect, but Staple is not what you’d call reliable. I trust Dater in this case. It’s more likely that someone leaked that to Staple to try to make Sakic look bad knowing he’d parrot it.

      Dater’s an old-school beat guy who’s been around and has LOTS of contacts. For all his other faults, you can trust him in this area.

  • zach

    If Joe Sakic is just going to sit on his hands, he might as well stick his thumbs up so he at least gets something out of it

  • Fivefingers

    Dumbass sakic is going to trade duchene for a 3rd and 5th and Alex Semin’s rights

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