PDI Interview with Matt Duchene

Updated: December 13, 2014

At the end of the 2012 NHL regular season, we sat down with [then] 20 year-old Colorado Avalanche superstar Matt Duchene. A center from Ontario, Canada, Duchene has progressed to a leading center on the team in his first two seasons with the organization. Duchene is an incredible role model to younger athletes everywhere, and he shared with us some insight on what took him to the top.


How old were you when you started and what got you into the sport?

I Started skating when I was two, and started playing hockey when I was four. It was something I loved even from a young age. I just took right to it. Hockey is in my genetics, I have three uncles that play, two were drafted into the NHL, one coaches for Vancouver.


Growing up, did you play any other sports?

Yeah I played basketball, soccer, and volleyball. In high school I actually won 3rd in Ontario discus in track and field but then I hurt my back the next year. I played badminton I played all kinds of stuff.


NHL: San Jose Sharks at Colorado AvalancheHow important were your parents to you and your hockey career?

They were everything. My dad would drive me an hour and fifteen minutes to every practice, it was that far away. We lived in a very small town. There’s no way I’d be here without them.


How important was school and education?

It was really important. Something I always took pride in. In my second year in OHL I won the scholastic player of the year for a combination of academics and play on the ice. So it was something I was proud of because my grades were something I took pride in. I always did well in school.


When did you realize that you wanted to play in the NHL and that you had a very real shot at that?

I think my whole life it was my goal. Watching it on the TV at two years old I just always imagined myself being there so, it was something that I believed in myself that I could do it.


What advice do you have for kids who are aspiring athletes or involved in competitive sports?

I’d say if you’re good at it and you love it work as hard as you can. Because it’s a great life and it’s a lot of fun and it’s a lot of freedom. You really get to enjoy everything in life and, it’s not always great, but you go through ups and downs like anything in life but for the most part, you’re doing something you love all the time.


How’s the rooming situation and living with Adam Foote?

It’s good, I’ve lived with him for the last two years. He’s been a great mentor for me and I’ve learned a lot. I’ve changed a lot as a person and become more mature and really grown up a lot. They have two boys and it’s cool to get to be an older brother figure for them.


What did you do in the off-season to improve your game?

I started training at a really young age, I was working out at twelve actually. I think as a kid, it depends how old you are. I think by fourteen you should be starting to train with somebody and start to work on your conditioning off the ice. But I always shot pucks outside, starting when I was just five years old. My dad set something up in the basement. While the other kids were just flicking the puck I was actually taking wrist shots just because I loved it and I practiced it so much. The game is played on the ice and not in the weight room so I think, when you’re young you have to work on your hands and your shooting as much as possible. Obviously skating you can only work on the ice. Your hands and your shot you can work on off the ice.


Do you have any superstitions?

Yeah, I have a ton. If things are going well I don’t change anything, like my laces. I’m very superstitious, and I hate it, I want to change. I don’t want to be like that, but at the same time I try to listen to the same music before games if things go well. If I’m on a roll or feeling good I try to do things exactly the same. Sometimes it’s a bit too much. But like I said, I’m trying to break that habit a little bit so it’s something I’m working on.


How were you able to prevent a second-year slump coming off such a great rookie season?

Well I just wanted to get better every way over the summer. I went through a pretty big slump for a while there, but I think for the most part the season has been pretty good for me. I’ve done some great things and I’m progressing at the pace I need to be. Obviously, when I was slumping and when the team was losing it was hard. Because I know if I hadn’t been slumping I would have been able to help somewhat, so that’s a tough pill to swallow. But on the whole it’s been a great year.


How do you get your confidence back when you’re slumping?

Confidence is the hardest thing to keep in any sport. If you’re not 100% confident in yourself you’re not going to do well. I don’t think my confidence is ever down, I think it’s just from having some tough luck on the ice. I think what got me out of it was I tried to make a pass and It hit a skate and went in the net. A little thing like that can just give you a little boost. My advice is just to stick with it and keep plugging away and eventually you’re going to get a bounce and eventually you’re going to get out of it.


What kind of music do you listen to before the games to get fired up?

I listen to a variety of stuff. I actually play music myself, I play guitar and a little bit of drums. So I’m really into it. Greenday is probably my favorite band, they just released a live CD and DVD so I’m pretty pumped up about that. I’m a country boy at heart though, so I mostly listen to country. When I sleep at night I have a country station playing in my room. It’s just some nice background music for me, but I’m always listening to something.


Favorite country singer?

Brad Paisley.


We heard you went up to Valor High School to talk a bit there about your faith?

Yeah that was last year through an organization called Hockey Ministry International. It’s a group of guys who come around the rink and do chapel, we actually did it this morning. Just a half hour, read some stuff out of the bible, talk about some stuff. That’s a huge part of my life, that’s something that gets me through a lot, that I can lean on. I think it’s important that anybody who is following that type of life style to stay true to it, and take it even further than they’ve taken it because it can really empower you and make you a better person.

When did you become a Christian?

I’ve always been. My parents are. We went to church a good amount, but I don’t believe you have to go to church to be a Christian. You just live your life the way you should, and the way of God, and I think that’s the most important thing.


How did you handle feeling homesick when you first left home?

I remember my first season in Juniors I moved from a town of 1,500 people to a city of 600,000 with 2,400 kids at the school I went to. I was a minority at the school so that was an unbelievable culture shock for me. Something like that just makes you stronger, it’s tough at times but you just keep going through it and learning every day.

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