On Friday, for the first time since 2011, the NHL hosted a game in Europe, the first of two games in consecutive days between the Ottawa Senators and Colorado Avalanche in Stockholm, Sweden in what is branded as the Global Series.
Fans of both teams drooled at the matchup, not because it was a rare Friday-afternoon game on the other side of the world, but because it was the first time the two teams have played since the blockbuster Matt Duchene trade on Sunday, and — as the hockey gods would have it — they were facing each other.
Sporting No. 95 (a combination of two numbers he wore during his childhood) for the first time, Duchene took to the ice skating with linemates Mike Hoffman and Zack Smith.
As the anticipation grew and the 26-year-old stepped on the ice for the first time as an Ottawa Senator, play was abruptly halted as Hoffman flicked the puck over the glass and picked up a delay-of-game penalty.
In 16:44 of ice time, Duchene registered two shots on goal, a minus-one rating and a 50 per cent success rate in the faceoff circle. In an up-and-down game for the 2009 third-overall pick, he showed some early promise and was integral in Stockholm native Fredrik Claesson’s first goal of the season.
But he also looked out of place at other times, including the Avalanche’s overtime-forcing goal when he got in the way of Smith and watched as his former teammate Nathan MacKinnon fan the puck into the net.
And then the inevitable debate ensued as both sides argued as to who won the trade.
Of course it was all done in jest, but, after one game, Samuel Girard (from the Nashville Predators‘ side of the three-way deal) picked up an assist and was plus-one as the 19-year-old registered 21:55 of ice time.
While the game wasn’t entirely disappointing for Duchene, it wasn’t particularly great either. But, all things considered, he was coming off a lengthy stint on the trade block before he had to fly overseas to make a fresh start with a new team.
Round two of the Global Series/Who Won the Trade takes place on Saturday at 1:00 p.m. ET.