Avalanche (finally) move Matt Duchene in blockbuster 3-team trade

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Avalanche (finally) move Matt Duchene in blockbuster 3-team trade

Joe Sakic told Matt Duchene to be patient, that the trade he asked for would come at some point.

It finally did as the Colorado Avalanche traded Duchene to the Ottawa Senators on Sunday night in a pair of deals that also included Kyle Turris going to the Nashville Predators. With the Duchene saga over, he joins the Senators as their new No. 1 center, Turris gives the Predators more depth down the middle and the Avalanche push forward with their rebuilding youth movement.

"It's bittersweet for sure, but I'm excited for a new opportunity in Ottawa," Duchene said as he left Barclays Center in Brooklyn. "(The Senators) have a team that can win a Stanley Cup. I'm really excited to go there and just nothing but a pleasure to have played here for Colorado."

Colorado gets top prospects Samuel Girardi and Vladislav Kamenev and a 2018 second-round pick from Nashville, and prospect Shane Bowers, goaltender Andrew Hammond and a 2018 first- and 2019 third-round picks from Ottawa. Sakic said the Senators first-round pick was top-10 protected.

Duchene is signed through 2018-19 at a salary-cap hit of $6 million. But Sakic said Duchene requested a trade last Christmas, and he has been talking to teams about moving him ever since.

"It's been a while, but we wanted to make sure we had the right deal," Colorado's general manager said. "I think it worked for all three teams. Ottawa wanted Matt really bad, and Kyle Turris was the perfect fit for what Nashville's trying to do and we're trying to build this up and get younger and have our kids grow together."

After the deals were completed, Turris signed a $36 million, six-year extension with Nashville that keeps him under contract through 2023-24. Nashville, which went to the Stanley Cup Final last season, lost winger James Neal to Vegas in the expansion draft but could afford to sign Turris because of that cap space.

Predators GM David Poile called Turris, 28, one of the best two-way centers in the NHL.

"He should be a great fit in our locker room and will bolster our lineup and give us the depth that's necessary during the regular season and the playoffs," Poile said. "He is someone who can play in all situations and will help us tremendously on both ends of the ice. He will give our coaching staff a number of options in terms of offensive production and defensive responsibilities."

Duchene has four goals and six assists in 13 games this season and 178 goals and 250 assists in 585 NHL games, all with Colorado. He'll play his first game with the Senators on Friday against the Avalanche in Stockholm, which could be a weird meeting after Duchene spent so much time in limbo.

"We're going to still focus on winning hockey games and focus on doing that with the guys that want to be here," Avalanche captain Gabriel Landeskog said after a 6-4 loss to the Islanders. "Obviously, Matt had his opinions and reasons for whatever happened, but I think for the guys that are here, we want to try to win and we want to change this thing around with this team."

Duchene had a good idea in recent days something was coming, and coach Jared Bednar was prepared with different lineups in case a trade went down. Sakic said he, Poile and Senators GM Pierre Dorion had been talking for a long time, so it was hard to find anyone surprised that Duchene is no longer with the Avalanche.

But Duchene's exit came in unique fashion as he found out on the bench during the game and left the ice with injured Colorado forward Blake Comeau 9:21 into the first period.

"I kind of knew before they told me," Duchene said. "I saw them talking on the bench. It's very strange, but I kind of half-expected it to be the weirdest way possible. It's one of those things -- it's a business and I'll have good story for people one day."

Emergency goalie: The most unusual 1-day job in sports with Flyers connections

Emergency goalie: The most unusual 1-day job in sports with Flyers connections

Tom Fenton was in a barber's chair when he got the call. Nathan Schoenfeld was giving his 5-week-old twin boys a bath. Eric Semborski was teaching kids to play hockey at a suburban rink.

Within hours, each was wearing a mask, pads and an NHL uniform as an emergency goaltender, perhaps the most unusual position in all of sports.

Calling up someone with a bit of playing experience and saying, "Get your gear together, we need you," is a storybook scenario for amateur athletes everywhere and incredibly rare in U.S. professional sports. But it has happened a handful of times in hockey already this season, including New Year's Eve when longtime Carolina Hurricanes equipment manager Jorge Alves made history as the first emergency goalie to play in an NHL game in the modern era.

"To actually get out there, all of a sudden the lights seemed brighter," said Alves, who played an unforgettable 7.6 seconds at the end of Carolina's game at Tampa Bay. "The lights were brighter out there and it was just like, `OK this is crazy.'"

Alves, a 37-year-old former minor league goalie and Marine, faced no shots and couldn't care less as he happily joined an exclusive club of emergency goalies. He had watched weeks earlier as Semborski, a programs coordinator and youth hockey coach at the Flyers' practice facility, dressed for the Blackhawks on Dec. 3 after Corey Crawford needed an emergency appendectomy.

He didn't play against the Flyers, but the 23-year-old former Temple goalie was on the bench in a No. 50 jersey with his own name on it instead of Crawford's, and he called facing shots from Patrick Kane and Co. during warmups "the best 15 minutes of hockey ever."

"It's definitely a unique situation in sports that really only happens in hockey," Semborski said.

While the emergency goalie situation might seem a bit chaotic, it used to be even more nebulous. Then came March 3, 2015, when the Florida Panthers were in a bind: Starter Roberto Luongo left a home game against Toronto with an unspecified upper-body injury, but then backup Al Montoya suffered a groin injury.

Play was stopped while goaltending coach Robb Tallas, a 41-year-old former NHL goalie, prepared to go in, as did forward Derek MacKenzie as a last resort. The NHL was asked if Tallas could take the ice, but the red tape was avoided when Luongo rushed back from a nearby hospital to return to the game.

The NHL instituted a rule beginning the following season requiring each team to have a list of local emergency goalie options for themselves and for visiting teams -- and they've been needed. Just Friday night, Luongo was injured during warmups and Panthers ticket sales account executive Bobby Segin dressed as the emergency backup against the Nashville Predators.

After hearing rumors on a group chat with his teammates that Ryan Miller might not be able to dress, University of British Columbia goalie Matt Hewitt got the call to serve as the backup for the Vancouver Canucks on Oct. 18. His coach told him, "You're going up to play in the big leagues."

"I kind of just woke up not knowing anything and all of a sudden here I am, I've got to get ready to gear up for the Canucks," Hewitt said.

While Hewitt was at least an active goalie at the time, Fenton's pads were bone dry. He hadn't played goal in months after his time at Division I American International College when the Coyotes called him in December 2010.

Preparing to fly home to see his parents in Ontario, Fenton was getting a trim at a Supercuts in White Plains, New York, when his phone kept vibrating. He finally picked up the sixth call from a local president of youth hockey who told Fenton: "Pick up your phone, you dumb idiot. You're going to play for the Phoenix Coyotes at Madison Square Garden."

Driving a friend's SUV, Fenton made his way into Manhattan, parked in a public lot, dragged his equipment into the Garden and enjoyed what he considers one of the best days of his life even though he didn't play in the game. Near the end, Fenton said, Coyotes captain Shane Doan tried to persuade the referees to give the backup goalie a penalty just to get him on the scoresheet. Fenton had to settle for a game puck.

The Coyotes this past February turned to Schoenfeld, a financial adviser and son of former coach and player Jim Schoenfeld. An injury to Anders Lindback took Schoenfeld from a Presidents Day off with family to the rink, where he got to back up Louis Domingue and enjoy the camaraderie of a winning locker room.

"I was sitting there and I stayed fully dressed because my (2-year-old) son was coming down to get some photos and I'm just listening to the guys talk and Shane Doan gives me the (team's) MVP belt," Schoenfeld said. "When that happened, that was kind of the icing on the cake of the whole thing."

Dave Ayres, who is a Zamboni driver among other duties as manager of operations for Mattamy Athletic Centre at the old Maple Leaf Gardens in Toronto, has dressed twice for the American Hockey League's Marlies. Ayres had been pranked so many times by the Marlies' equipment staff that he didn't believe he was really needed last season in Rochester, New York, until Maple Leafs assistant GM Kyle Dubas told him: "Dave, no, we're serious. We need you. So get your stuff in the truck, get driving.'"

Ayres arrived 20 minutes before warmups.

Brett Leonhardt got a few hours' notice in 2008 that Washington's Jose Theodore was hurt. A website producer at the time after playing at Division III Neumann University, Leonhardt was the backup only until Semyon Varlamov could make it to the rink, but said of taking warmups: "It's like the greatest memory of your life." Leonhardt backed up for an entire game in 2013, too, and is now the Capitals' video coach.

Another one-time emergency goalie is now living out his dream.

Undrafted goalie Carter Hutton was playing during the weekends on an AHL amateur contract while finishing classes at UMass-Lowell when the Flyers made him the backup for one game in March 2010. Hutton thinks that exposure helped him land a contract with the San Jose Sharks and now he's a veteran of 88 NHL games and serves as the full-time backup for the St. Louis Blues.

Hutton happened to be on the ice for Hewitt's big day and got to congratulate him.

"It is very surreal, but make sure you soak it in but still work hard and you never know," Hutton said. "It's such a unique situation where you get a guy, just a local guy or someone in the area that can play to be up there and you're one situation away from stepping on the ice to play in the NHL."

Jonathan Papelbon the teammate is complicated, respected character


Jonathan Papelbon the teammate is complicated, respected character

Jonathan Papelbon yelled from his locker to Washington Nationals clubhouse attendant Mike Wallace in the middle of the room. The message: tell Gio Gonzalez to get on the stationary bike.

Out on the practice fields in Viera, Florida, Papelbon stopped a drill because Gonzalez wasn't doing it right, something new manager Dusty Baker said was "a sign to me of a good team."

The Nationals hope to become a good team again, but it wasn't clear if Papelbon would be a part of the club six months after a dugout altercation with teammate and National League MVP Bryce Harper. Papelbon apologized to Harper and the organization, and general manager Mike Rizzo expressed no hesitation in bringing him back because of the due diligence the front office did before acquiring the 35-year-old closer at last season's trade deadline.

"We talked to his teammates in Boston and in Philly, and players who knew him around the league and found no teammate that has a bad thing to say about him," Rizzo said.

Papelbon the closer is undeniable, converting on 24 of 26 save opportunities last season and 349 of 395 throughout his major league career, which includes a World Series title with the Boston Red Sox. Papelbon the teammate is a more complicated character -- a mix of intense competitiveness, light-hearted ribbing, loud country music and a Southern twang.

"One incident doesn't define who you are as a human," said Nationals pitcher Bronson Arroyo, who played with Papelbon for parts of three seasons with Boston. "I think that inside this locker room, by the time (the season gets) going here, I don't think there'll be any kind of issues from him. He's a solid guy, and I think anybody would take him on their team."

The image of Papelbon putting his hands on Harper's neck during a game Sept. 27 may follow him for some time. He received some boos the first time he stepped on the mound at Space Coast Stadium for a Nationals spring training game, but Rizzo said fans have to trust him that Papelbon will help the team win.

Harper said when he arrived at camp that he had moved on, and that Papelbon was contrite in his apology.

"I'm an imperfect person living in an imperfect world," Papelbon said. "My whole point is that good can come of this. I can redirect this, and we can go out and win 95 games this season and go into the playoffs and be hot and go win a world championship still."

Inside the Nationals' clubhouse, that belief exists. With a rotation headlined by Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg and a lineup featuring Harper, Washington is again a contender after missing the playoffs last season.

Rizzo traded former closer Drew Storen to the Toronto Blue Jays for outfielder Ben Revere, ensuring Papelbon will be a big part of the Nationals' resurgence, keeping the closer job he wanted when he waived his no-trade clause in July.

Being a leader is something several former teammates say Papelbon is, even if he marches to his own beat.

"I think people didn't see him, like the real Papelbon," Phillies reliever Luis Garcia said. "I really saw that he was different. For us in the bullpen, he was great with us, talking with us about stuff."

Even though Papelbon's brash attitude wore thin on a losing team in Philadelphia, teammates respected him for getting his job done on the mound.

"If anybody gets in front of a microphone and tries to tell you that they don't have any problems, they don't have any issues, they don't rub people the wrong way ever, then they're going to be liars," Phillies outfielder Cody Asche said. "Maybe he's done it on a bigger scale than others have, so it's a little bit more magnified."

Papelbon was a mentor of sorts to hard-throwing reliever Ken Giles, whom the Phillies traded to the Houston Astros in the offseason. Giles said getting to know Papelbon makes someone's opinion about him "do a full 180."

"A lot of people forget that he won a World Series, he knows what he's talking about, he's been there," Giles said. "He's just trying to tell everybody that hasn't been there what it's like and he makes sure to show them what it feels like to be that successful and win a World Series."

The Detroit Tigers' Jarrod Saltalamacchia, who caught Papelbon in Boston, said Papelbon is far different as a person than people perceive from the outside.

"We judge people for what we see instead of getting to know somebody," Saltalamacchia said. "I know playing against him I loved him just because I love the way he came in, was serious as could be, had one job and did it. As a player you just get to love him more as a person and see he cares, he's a good dude."