Skip to content

Is Matt Duchene in Joe Sacco’s doghouse?

Mar 26, 2012, 2:05 PM EDT

Matt Duchene Getty Images

This has been a trying season for the relationship between Joe Sacco and Matt Duchene.

Back in October, Sacco dropped Duchene to the fourth line, docking his minutes in the process. Duchene then went on to miss 20 games with a knee injury and another four with an ankle issue.

Things have been up and down for the 21-year-old since returning, with a major down point occurring in Thursday’s loss in Phoenix. Sacco benched him for almost the entire third period; Duchene finished with 7:21 and a minus-two rating.

While neither wanted to discuss the Phoenix incident — Sacco said Duchene was “having a tough go at it,” while Duchene declined comment — it seemed to carry over to Saturday’s game against the Canucks. With the Avalanche in a dogfight for the eighth and final playoff spot in the West, Sacco played Duchene all of 14:57, including just 3:34 in the first period.

It was a curious distribution of ice time, especially since Colorado was going with a shortened bench. Three forwards — Jay McClement, Chuck Kobasew and Cody McLeod — each played less than 10 minutes, meaning there was plenty of ice time for the remaining forwards. Yet Duchene, who led the Avs in scoring last year, saw less than the likes of Jamie McGinn and David Jones and essentially had the same even strength ice time as Mark Olver, who joined the Avs in February.

So, what gives?

Consider what Sacco said following the Coyotes game:

“The most important thing is, when you’re in the midst of the game, is putting the people out there you think give you the best chance to win. So that’s what we did. We ended up making a pretty good game of it, scoring two goals in the third (and) we had some opportunities to tie it up late in the game.”

That philosophy carried over to Vancouver, where he loaded up guys like Gabriel Landeskog (22:24), Ryan O’Reilly (22:55) and Matt Hunwick (21:37).  So Sacco’s going to play the guys he thinks will get him victories…but what does it say for Duchene that he’s not one of those guys?

  1. bcisleman - Mar 26, 2012 at 2:33 PM

    Be curious to see how Duchene loyalists will spin this one. If there ever was a legitimate Tavares-Duchene argument, it’s over.

    • danphipps01 - Mar 26, 2012 at 3:07 PM

      You can’t even say it’s because Colorado is terrible. They’re better than the Islanders and Tavares is still tearing it up spectacularly. Guy’s just much harder-working, more durable and brings a higher hockey IQ than Duchene does. Duchene’s got all the skill he needs, but he seems to quit under pressure… which means he’d probably look great in a Sharks jersey.

    • lolnowhy - Mar 26, 2012 at 5:10 PM

      Duchene and Tavares matched point totals the last two years. Matt is having one down, injured year. give me a break

      • bcisleman - Mar 27, 2012 at 12:27 AM

        A down year? 4th line? Healthy scratch? Guarantee you that won’t happen to JT MD has about 1/2 point a game while JT is just about exactly a point a game. And the big selling point as far as MD loyalists was always that he was a better two way guy. Well his +/- is getting worse while JT’s is getting better. JT is a -2 on a team that’s -44 while MD is -8 on a team that’s -2 and poised for the playoffs. Face it, JT’s just a better player.

      • lolnowhy - Mar 27, 2012 at 12:41 AM

        yes, a down year. is that too hard to understand? I bet you were on the same bandwagon of idiots that claimed Seguin was a bust because he only put up 22 points playing 4th line minutes. Duchene is in fact in Sacco’s doghouse and has been for a while, and it’s become painfully obvious that the doghouse tactic does not work, especially on young players like Duchene. I suppose you subscribe to the Ron Wilson way of thinking putting a goal scorer on the 4th line is a good idea! there is obviously a difference in philosophy between coach and player, and that will be addressed over the summer. face it, John Tavares plays in a pampered conference with little to no expectations due to the team being terrible for just over a decade, he could put up 70 goals and literally no one would care.

      • bcisleman - Mar 27, 2012 at 1:38 AM

        What a load of crap! There are A TON of expectations of JT…FAR more than on MD. He is the face of the Islander franchise in a way that MD is not and never will be in Colorado. He is not going to have a “down” year and be put on 4th line duty. He is simply a better player than MD is and always will be. Seguin and Wilson are irrelevant to the discussion but its one thing for a rookie not to blow everyone away. Its another for the bottom to fall out of a player’s stats in his third year. The coach-player excuse is lame as well. JT is on his second coach and may well see a third next season. Hasn’t hurt his numbers in the least.

      • lolnowhy - Mar 27, 2012 at 2:05 AM

        oh boy… “Matt Duchene is not the face of the franchise in Colorado” is an insanely idiotic statement and it has become clear to me that I am in the throes of an endlessly painful discussion with a complete idiot

      • bcisleman - Mar 27, 2012 at 6:13 PM

        Its obvious that you have no argument to make or you wouldn’t have turned to invective. The fact of the matter is, and it is a fact, that JT is just a better player than MD ever will be. Only the most blindly clueless of Av fans, which you clearly are, can fail to see that.

  2. somekat - Mar 26, 2012 at 2:43 PM

    I’ll take him in Philly if the Avs are tired of him

  3. govtminion - Mar 26, 2012 at 2:58 PM

    Both he and Stastny have been pretty disappointing this year. Here’s hoping for much more from both next season.

  4. tackledummy1505 - Mar 26, 2012 at 3:48 PM

    Lol Joe Sacco has the same problem as Philadelphia Union (soccer/MLS) has. They both think they’re Gods in their respected sports. No one will tell them other wise. Hey Sacco stop being a tool and give your team a chance to make the playoffs. If not trade Duchene and/or Statsny to the Flyers. We’ll take them if they’re so bad lpl,

  5. tackledummy1505 - Mar 26, 2012 at 3:50 PM

    *philadelphia Union coach: Peter Novak*

  6. xx1111 - Mar 26, 2012 at 4:26 PM

    I think we make a big trade to Columbus for the #1 pick and the rights to Yakapov. Out with Duchene and Statsny. The Blue Jackets dont wanna deal with another Russian and Varlamov needs another country mate.

    • danphipps01 - Mar 26, 2012 at 4:53 PM

      Howson’s dumb enough to do something like that, too. Mind you, Colorado could probably stand to upgrade their defense first. McGinn and especially Downie are big, big additions for forward depth, but Quincey was a relatively significant loss on the defense. You guys want a good own-zone D before more scoring, especially if Landeskog comes into the NHL game fully next year and starts notching thirty-plus-goal seasons.

  7. matty11kat - Mar 26, 2012 at 8:17 PM

    I’m under the distinct impression that he’s playing hurt. Watch Duchene skating pre-injury, then compare it to now. His speed was one of, if not the, greatest asset he had, and ever since he came back, it’s just non-existent. His playing hurt would explain how he came back so soon and why he’s been struggling.
    Just a thought.

Sign up for Fantasy hockey

Top 10 NHL Player Searches
  1. S. Crosby (2562)
  2. R. Johansen (2298)
  3. E. Malkin (2089)
  4. P. Datsyuk (2076)
  5. D. Stepan (1962)
  1. J. Drouin (1888)
  2. F. Forsberg (1813)
  3. T. Krug (1741)
  4. J. Staal (1724)
  5. C. Giroux (1692)