Duchene embraces veteran role with Team Canada
By Darren Lum
Published May 17, 2016
He’s all of 25 years old and has already played for Canada more times than many of his teammates.
Haliburton’s Matt Duchene and centre for the NHL’s Colorado Avalanche is once again wearing the maple leaf and the red and white, representing Canada at the IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship in Moscow, Russia.
Last year he was part of a Canadian squad that went undefeated in the tournament to win gold.
Despite the high expectations of the country, he said this pales in comparison to the players of the team.
“The expectations we have on ourselves are bigger than what’s outside of our room. It’s something we take seriously but we have fun with it and just try and go play hockey,” he wrote in an email from Russia.
Unlike playing in Colorado, Duchene knows there will be far fewer fans watching in the stands.
“Obviously when we're playing at the Pepsi Center there's 18,000 cheering for us whereas over here, there's very few Canadian fans. There's really no home games, just away games so it's very different,” he said. Last year, the Canadian team easily won the tournament with a 10-0 record.
Having this knowledge, he said, is essential, but understands that nothing is guaranteed in a single-elimination format during the medal round of play.
“Obviously when you win at anything you understand what it takes and it’s no different in this tourney. The hardest part is once you get to the medal round, you have to run the table or you’re out of gold medal contention so you have to make sure you make those games and big moments count,” he said.
He welcomes the veteran role on the team.
“It’s been fun so far being an assistant captain and being looked at as a leader on this team. It’s a role I’m very comfortable in and being my fifth worlds, I am very familiar with the tourney. I’m just trying to help the guys when I can to navigate each game and new challenge as seamlessly as possible, there are a lot of unknowns ... that can come at you in these events,” he said.
Getting this opportunity to play more hockey is a welcome, particularly when it is for his country.
“Just being able to play more hockey and most of all, wearing the red and white. It’s always an honour and it never gets old,” he said.
As of Tuesday morning, Canada leads group B, which includes Finland, Slovakia, Germany, U.S.A., France, Hungary and Belarus. In group A there is the Czech Republic, Russia, Sweden, Switzerland, Denmark, Kazakhstan, Norway and Lativa.