You know what’s a good way to feel old? When once-great players start to sound a bit like cranky old men.
Peter Forsberg didn’t torch Matt Duchene in a Swedish interview (translated by Sports Expressen’s Robin Lindgren, passed along by the Denver Post’s Mike Chambers). Even so, the criticism was pointed enough to make an impact: Forsberg believes that the Avalanche should bench and trade the speedy forward.
From a chemistry standpoint, that idea is understandable, whether Duchene is really “visibly unhappy with the team,” as Chambers writes, or if the admittedly amusing memes that surfaced ended up blowing things out of proportion.
Either way, Foppa’s idea would be wildly counterproductive.
For one thing, it’s difficult to claim that the effort isn’t there for Duchene. The 26-year-old scored a goal and an assist in the Avalanche’s first game of the season, and while he wasn’t able to score against the Devils, he fired five shots on goal.
He seems like he’s doing more than going through motions, whether it’s wishing people a happy holiday:
Or interacting warmly with young fans:
Is he enjoying this process? Probably not. Maybe there are times when he’s indeed surly, and his teammates probably don’t love the idea of answering questions about him for however long this takes (if a trade even happens).
But imagine how much worse it would get if the Avalanche scratched Duchene for … not smiling widely enough?
From a sheer practicality perspective, it makes little-to-no sense. Even if his attitude is less than optimal, it’s clear that GM Joe Sakic wants to get as much value as possible for Duchene in a trade. Having him rot on the bench would only drive that trade value down, especially if there are murmurs that he’s riding the pine because of attitude problems.
Nope, the Avalanche should take the opposite approach. As this PHT pre-season post argues, they should instead put Duchene in every situation to generate numbers, possibly even beyond what he could do over a longer haul.
In other words, Sakic probably respects Forsberg deeply, but he should ignore his former teammate on this one.