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The Faith of Game-Winner Matt Duchene

In Articles, Sports by Carter Brooks

With 8:18 remaining in the second overtime period of Game 6 of the Western Conference Semifinals, The Faith of Game-Winner Matt DucheneDallas Stars forward Matt Duchene collected a loose puck in front of the Colorado net and fired home the game-winner. This eliminated the Avalanche in one fell swoop and propelled the Stars to the Conference Finals for the third time in five seasons.

For Duchene, a first-year member of the Texas team, the goal–and win–was so much more than just a series-clincher. It marks his first trip to a Conference Final, and it happened against the club that he thought would be his lifelong home.

“This is only the second time I’ve been past the first round in my career,” Duchene reflected post-game. “Now we’re going to the Conference Finals. At 33, I think there’s a certain level of appreciation that you have that you wouldn’t have had as a young player.”

“The puck just popped out to me there I shot it in and blacked out pretty much. Everyone was so tired. I started skating, then I got tired. I don’t even know what I did after that to be honest with you, I was pretty pumped up.”

Having been drafted by the Avalanche third overall in 2009, the Ontario product spent nine seasons with the club but only made it into eight total postseason games. Duchene then made the difficult decision to ask for a trade. From there, he landed in Ottawa before briefly suiting up for Columbus.

But in the summer of 2019, Duchene agreed to a seven-year, $56 million deal with the Nashville Predators. Both hot and cold through his first four seasons in Tennessee, Duchene had the final three years of his contract bought out last summer and found himself at a fork in the road.

Oh, and the year before? He watched his former teammates in Colorado hoist the Stanley Cup while he sat on the couch at home.

“You know what, I have a lot of fond memories of being an Av,” Duchene shared moments after stepping off the ice at Ball Arena after Game 6. “They were my favourite team growing up, and it was an absolute honour to be here. It was one of the hardest things I ever had to do to kind of ask out. We were at a crossroads, and they turned it around really quick. I was really happy for them when they won. It was tough, at the same time, bittersweet, for sure. I mean, they swept us in the first round and then went on to win. It’s tough.

“You maybe wonder had I stayed, if I maybe would have won. But at the same time, God had a plan for me, and I’m just living out that plan. It’s kind of fitting that things went the way they did in a barn and a place that meant a lot to me. My wife is from here, I have a lot of friends and family now that are from here. I have nothing but fond memories as an Av and nothing but good feelings towards them.”

For Duchene, a big part of the decision to sign with Dallas in the offseason was because of the people he knew within the organization–from head coach Peter DeBoer to some of the veteran leaders, he knew it would be a solid fit.

A one-year, $3 million contract now has him four wins away from the Stanley Cup Final.

“When I had the opportunity to sign here, it was one I jumped at,” Duchene said. “Obviously, I didn’t expect to be in that position, but God works in mysterious ways. From the time I signed here, I’ve just been grateful and I’ve been looking forward to these opportunities. My teammates and the coaches have been just amazing, welcoming me in and helping me get acclimated early.”

A man of immense faith, Duchene previously detailed the importance of his spiritual backbone to Impactus.

“My faith is definitely one of the biggest things in my life that I lean on,” Duchene told SEVEN magazine back in 2017. “I just try to stay true to who I am, true to my roots and true to my faith. I feel that I have done a good job of that so far, and it’s definitely something that I know I will make sure that I stay with and continue that way. As a kid, my family went to church quite a bit. Obviously, it was tough with hockey at times, but my parents made an effort to take us there and just get the word into us. I think it was the right way to be brought up for sure.”

“My two favourite Bible verses are Philippians 4:13 – ‘I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me,’ and Hebrews 6:19 – ‘We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.’ Those two have really kept me going through the tough times this year.”

Now, with his first Conference Finals fast approaching, Duchene remains focused on the task at hand but knows why he’s there and who he wants to win it for.

“Do I want to win a Cup for myself? Absolutely. But I think I want to win it more for other guys in that room. Guys like Jamie Benn, Joe Pavelski, Ryan Suter and Pete DeBoer, just so many guys that deserve to win because they’re just such great people. That’s a responsibility that has probably been heavy on me at times, but it means a lot to me and it doesn’t matter whether the puck’s going in or it’s not. You block shots, you hit, you just try to do the right thing to help the team win, no matter what’s going on. We owe it to those guys. It would be really great to do it for those guys.”

Carter Brooks
Carter Brooks is a news writer and sports columnist situated in Winnipeg, MB. On top of reading and writing, coaching hockey is his favorite pastime.
Carter Brooks
Carter Brooks is a news writer and sports columnist situated in Winnipeg, MB. On top of reading and writing, coaching hockey is his favorite pastime.