Matt Duchene lines up a pool-style shot on the 6th green during the 2009 Colorado Avalanche Charity Golf Classic at The Ridge at Castle Pines on Tuesday.
CASTLE PINES — Forty-eight hours before he is scheduled to report for training camp, Avalanche center Matt Duchene continued to keep his distance from the team that has attempted to trade him since before the March 1 trade deadline and throughout the summer.
Duchene, the only veteran under contract who did not participate in last week’s voluntary captains skates, was a no-show Tuesday at the Avs’ charity golf tournament at The Ridge at Castle Pines North. The golf outing is typically a mandatory event for players, because it usually takes place during training camp or preseason. But veteran players aren’t required to report for training camp until Thursday morning at the Pepsi Center.
Duchene, 26, is Colorado’s most veteran active player and stands sixth all-time in club scoring with 418 points. Avalanche general manager Joe Sakic, at his Aug. 17 charity golf tournament, said Duchene will begin his ninth season with the club if trade offers don’t provide a sufficient return for the player in his prime.
“He really doesn’t have to be here. None of us have to be here today,” Avs defenseman Erik Johnson said. “It’s optional, because camp hasn’t started. I really don’t think it’s a story until Thursday, or not. Until then, it’s just all speculation. I wish I had a little more info to give you, but I don’t. Really, it’s a non-story until Thursday.”
Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon said he and other players are “all assuming” Duchene will report Thursday. But nobody is sure.
“I don’t know exactly what’s going on,” MacKinnon said. “We all struggled last year. I wasn’t happy. Dutchy wasn’t with the way he played, I wasn’t happy with the way I played. He’s been here for eight years now, so if he thinks it’s time to move on, that’s his personal decision and I don’t want to get in the way. It’s his life, his career, and however he decides to handle it, that’s his own way. Like I’ve said before, Dutchy is a good guy. I’ve played with him for four years.”
Avalanche general manager Joe Sakic and most of his staff, along with the entire coaching staff, also didn’t participate in Tuesday’s golf outing. They are in San Jose, Calif., with 28 prospects competing in a rookie showcase with their peers from the San Jose Sharks, Anaheim Ducks and Arizona Coyotes. The Avalanche prospects were scheduled to face the Ducks in their third and final game of the showcase Tuesday at noon.
Footnote. Avs defenseman Nikita Zadorov was another no-show Tuesday and remains one of the NHL’s five unsigned restricted free agents. The 22-year-old Russian with 145 games of NHL experience has threatened to play in the Kontinental Hockey League if he does not agree to terms with Colorado. The league’s other unsigned RFAs are forwards Marcus Foligno of Minnesota, Boston’s David Pastrnak, Josh Anderson of Columbus and Detroit’s Andreas Athanasiou.