Is Matt Duchene the Dale Murphy of Hockey?

He Isn’t the Senators’ Only Problem, Though

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From the 1976 to 1989, there was a baseball player named Dale Murphy who was the face of the Atlanta Braves franchise, for some reason. He was expected to provide much of the offensive support for a terrible team, and in return took a lot of money. After only one postseason appearance in 1982, the Braves finally wised up and dumped his ass onto the Philadelphia Phillies in 1990, thus putting Atlanta on the road to an impressive stretch of Pennant wins in the National League.

Philadelphia, however, floundered like a seafood restaurant that has to hide its sanitation grade. Then the Phillies wised up and dumped him on the Colorado Rockies in 1993, lightening their load. Then the Phillies had a very memorable World Series run. But don’t weep for the Rockies; after Murphy retired they found their berth in the playoff in 1995.

Why am I telling you this? Because Matt Duchene might be the next pro sports Dale Murphy. Strung along with the stories of his displeasure with the Colorado (Avalanche, not the Rockies. No, the OTHER Rockies. But not the Rockies, the Avalanche), he was mercifully moved to an Ottawa Senators team who looked to be pushing themselves all-in after a near Stanley Cup appearance, but since has seemed to have pushed their organization over a cliff. While on fire. Into a swamp filled with malaria-laden mosquitoes.

Meanwhile the Avalanche popped into a surprise playoff spot and did well for themselves, while Joe Sakic likely saved his job. Vegas was taking bets on who would leave the Mile High City first, him or Duchene. Ottawa lost its ability to win, Eugene Melnyk lost his damn mind, and they are possibly about to lose the face of their beloved franchise (and Captain Morgan impressionist) Erik Karlsson. So I ask you this: Did Matt Duchene unearth and take Dale Murphy’s cursed Tiki Idol while hiking the mountains of Colorado, like in the episode of the Brady Bunch, The Tiki Caves (guest staring Vincent Price)?

But hang on, this drama ain’t over yet, not by a country mile! Even though it would seem that the dust has settled on this trade and the winners and losers have been announced, Ottawa put an interesting wrinkle in the stipulation that nobody saw coming at the time of the trade. While the Sens shoved all the chips onto the table into the pot including their 2018 first round pick; something they’d hoped to be around number 30 or 31. But they protected it so that if it was a top 10 pick, Colorado would get 2019’s first-rounder instead. Nobody expected them to crash and burn as badly as they did, even Karlsson. While they finished with the second-worst record, they were awarded the number four pick after Bill Daily told everyone to step off, Carolina and Montreal are doing the hump jumping everyone but Buffalo.

To get mauled in a trade like this but protect their fourth overall pick might be seem like a hockey no-brainer, but the league should really look into the head injury thing, because Ottawa approached the powers that be to see if they could deal with Colorado to MAKE THEM TAKE THE FOURTH OVERALL PICK ANYWAY!!! Why? Because they might put themselves in mega-hey-Toronto-you-think-you-know-what-scorched-earth-is-but-hold-my-beer-rebuild! They figure that if they can’t get a top three pick this year and they’re very like to lose their franchise player in Karlsson, they’re gonna gamble that they will be better at being worse next season and hopefully land Jack Hughes.

Gary Bettman, being an agent of chaos, said “sure, why not?” Could this work? I mean, I guess. Could it all blow up very badly in their faces? Oh yeah! All I’m saying is don’t be surprised if you see Colorado approaching the stage on June 22 early on laughing manically the whole way.

Jim Howard is a Carolina Hurricanes fan and reformed baseball card collector who is trying to keep the hockey collection from becoming overwhelming. And while he wishes he could give Crosby the business with his mitt, he is in fact NOT the goalie for the Red Wings. 

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Author: Jim Howard

Hockey enthusiast who pays the bills as a traveling geologist. More of a lover than a fighter, he's a fairly cheap date; just ask his wife. He'd prefer to be outside in the rain that stuck in the office on a beautiful day.

5 thoughts on “Is Matt Duchene the Dale Murphy of Hockey?”

    1. That’s why we posed the title as a question, because he still has time to turn his career around. But that past few years haven’t looked so great, and it reminded me of Murphy.

    1. Yeah, I did NOT see that one coming! Guessing Hoffman will probably get traded although this may drop his stock significantly since it’s become very public. Fans don’t want this coming to their team, and I doubt the players do. Karlson may just be looking for a fresh start somewhere.

  1. I treat Duchene much like Neal was after his trade to Pittsburgh from Dallas. Did little and everyone wanted him dumped.
    I thought this was foolish because the kid had talent but likely needed time to settle in and get into a groove. That following season proved me right. I suspect Duchene will be much in the same place next season. Loads of talent and this year should be treated like the lost year it was.
    Now unlike Neal, we have a team in transition. Being in Ottawa (an specifically the west end) I have some insight. I know much talk from Melnyk over the years has been the impact of Kanata as the host area of the city for the arena. To which I suggest this was manufactured by Melnyk as a reason to move the team to a new arena downtown (paid for by local taxpayers) after which it will be sold for a significant sum. While I won’t debate the details, I will say this – no one (and I mean no one) has been able to tell me why the arena was filled to the brim for the cup run of 08 and was the exact opposite last season. It wasn’t the location of the arena (which now has better transit and a wider highway over the 08 situation). I am sure Melnyks decision to make $20+ parking has impacted things!

    That said, the Karlsson situation is sad with the stillborn child, but ultimately I have long felt it was best they dealt him for the kings ransom of a package. The team has solid enough depth (as seen last year against my Pens) to compete and I hardly believe that Karlsson’s offensive strengths outweight the defensive lackings with how this team is built. For the right package, I think they could seriously compete next year.
    Now the Hoffman/Karlsson situation that has come about this year. I am privy to some information that comes from people in the know…..however I made a promise I wouldn’t say anything (mostly to protect them) – although I can’t say a lot of what I would like to, I will say this: what we hear as “the official story” isn’t exactly the Gods truth and there has been a large loss of context. What I will say is that I have much faith in what Craig Anderson’s wife has said and that not everyone involved in an angel. My hope is that this is resolved peacefully, however I expect bodies to move (which is a correction of the mistakes made in 09 and 10). I also have some insight into a potential sale, (again made promises) but will say that current ownership is looking for an idiotic sum from a collection of people who have been rumored to be involved and potential may involve a former player. Situation is ongoing. Read between the lines.

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