Colorado rocky? Columnist suggests feud between O’Reilly, Duchene

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Is there animosity within the Avalanche dressing room?

According to the Denver Post, it sure feels that way.

The are reportedly hard feelings between centers Matt Duchene and Ryan O’Reilly, once the closest of buddies.

The two broke in together as 18-year-old rookies in 2009-10, but their relationship appears fractured after O’Reilly held out before the Avs matched a two-year, $10 million offer sheet he signed with Calgary.

Duchene, meanwhile, re-upped with Colorado on a modest two-year, $7 million deal in June.

Here’s more, from Mike Chambers of the Post:

I’m not sure they even speak to each other now. After the Avs regained O’Reilly’s services by matching the Calgary Flames’ offer sheet for the restricted free agent and holdout a week ago, Duchene used only quick, politically correct answers to sum up his feelings about O’Reilly’s pending arrival.

On multiple occasions, he said “each player has his brand” and O’Reilly is “a good player.”

Tuesday in Detroit, Duchene opened up to an ESPN reporter as I pulled out the video camera for some blog material. By Wednesday the video was being played across North America, and people undoubtedly began to notice why Duchene has a beef with O’Reilly.

Here’s the video in question:

The ‘money’ quote from Duchene, so to speak…

“For me, I don’t care about any of that. I just want to play hockey. If I did look at it that way, maybe I would have done what he did.

“But I signed in June and I love being an Av, everything about it. I love cheering for this team and that’s all that matters for me.”

It’s easy to see why Duchene would be frustrated with how the situation played out. Aside from affecting the Avs on the ice — O’Reilly missed the first 19 games of the year — it also caused havoc off it.

The Calgary offer sheet fiasco put the Avs (and Flames) in the spotlight for all the wrong reasons, with media folk chiding both organizations for how poorly the situation was handled.

Prior to the offer sheet being signed, O’Reilly’s father wrote a scathing email to the Denver Post, blasting the Avs organization and how it handled contract negotiations.

Earlier, defenseman Shane O’Brien said the situation had “gotten ugly.”

What’s not helping things is that the Avs are losing. They have just one win in their last seven and only scored four goals in their last three, which only adds to the frustration level.