Ottawa Senators All-Star Anthony Duclair having a breakout season: ‘want to keep things going’

first_imgST. LOUIS — On Saturday night, under the brightest lights and on the National Hockey League’s biggest stage, Anthony Duclair’s remarkable comeback season added yet another layer. The Ottawa Senators forward netted a hat trick and added two assists for the All-Star Game finalist Metropolitan Division.”I just wanted to show what I can do,” Duclair said postgame with a smile. “When you’re playing with the best players in the world you’re going to make some plays, obviously, so it’s really nice to see for sure. “It’s been awesome. I haven’t stopped smiling since I got here, to be honest. It’s been a crazy ride.”MORE: Shea Weber returns to All-Star Weekend, wins Hardest Shot once againPoint #5⃣ for @aduclair10 tonight 👀 pic.twitter.com/2nLwtn7ppD— Ottawa Senators (@Senators) January 26, 2020The crazy ride for Duclair this season hasn’t didn’t start at the All-Star Game.Drafted in the third round by the New York Rangers back in 2013, Ottawa is now the fifth stop for the 24-year-old who also spent time with the Arizona Coyotes, Chicago Blackhawks and Columbus Blue Jackets — and as everyone knows, that 53-game stint in Ohio did not end on a high note.“I don’t think he knows how to play,” remarked an unenthused John Tortorella. “It seems to me he’s like a player that just feels he can get the puck because he’s tremendously skilled. He can skate. I just think he thinks he can do whatever the hell he wants to on the ice. He can’t do that in the National Hockey League.“For me right now he’s off the rails. I’m not so sure if we’re going to spend a lot more time trying to get him on the rails.”Days later, Duclair was shipped up north and in 21 games under head coaches Guy Boucher and then Marc Crawford, the change of scenery seemed to reboot the forward as he potted 14 points. This year, with D.J. Smith as the Senators bench boss, he has buried the puck a career-high 21 times coupled with 12 assists in 47 games.”Just way more confident, just getting the opportunity,” Duclair explained when Sporting News asked about the differences this season. “You know, obviously being on a young team, getting relied on more to have an offensive role. I’ve really taken the opportunity and ran with it — didn’t want to take it for granted.”D.J. Smith has been a huge part of my success this year as well as my teammates, wouldn’t be here at All-Star Weekend without them. I’m just really happy and want to keep things going.”👋 @aduclair10 pic.twitter.com/X1FcmIDgLI— Ottawa Senators (@Senators) January 25, 2020He’s come a long way since one of his first experiences skating as a youngster in Pointe-Claire, Que.”I don’t remember, obviously, but my dad told me when I was four or five he took me skating and I was on there for about five hours,” he remembered. “His back was killing him and he was trying to get me off and I kept kicking him with my skate and I cut him. That’s how much I loved it. I always loved skating and I guess it was the right thing to put me into hockey.”MORE: Florida Panthers to host 2021 NHL All-Star GameOn Saturday morning, Duclair toured the NHL Black Hockey History Tour, a mobile museum that is part of Hockey is For Everyone, a joint NHL and NHLPA initiative that has celebrated diversity and inclusion in hockey since 1996. “It’s awesome,” noted Duclair, who grew up wanting to emulate Jarome Iginla. “It helps grow the game for sure and even for myself, I didn’t really know a bunch of these guys until today. So, we’re all learning together . . . I do see an improvement and the diversity in the game compared to when I [started] playing so it’s really nice to see.” #NHLAllStar initiatives are continuing in St. Louis as #Sens forward @aduclair10 is visiting the Black Hockey History mobile museum alongside @RenataFast, @nursey16 and NHL social guest @XavierWoodsPhD. pic.twitter.com/wTVF1HfayG— Sens Communications (@Media_Sens) January 25, 2020The next step for “Duke,” as he was nicknamed long ago by the Blueshirts faithful, is finishing the season on a strong note as he plays out the final few weeks of a $1.65 million contract he signed last June with Ottawa. A restricted free agent, he’s used to one-year deals — this is his third straight after signing an entry-level deal with the Rangers back in 2014 — and says he heads in “with a positive attitude every day and we’ll see what happens but for myself, I just want to focus on hockey till the end here.”Mired towards the bottom of the league standings once again, the Senators should view Duclair as a key part of their future. He leads the team in goals and points at the “midway point,” is on pace to shatter his career point totals and is finally showcasing the skill that saw him make Broadway out of Training Camp in 2014 as a 19-year-old.”He’s been great for us,” said teammate, and fellow All-Star, Brady Tkachuk. “He’s got so much offensive firepower and so much skill. So it’s great to see and it’s been great to share this weekend with him.”last_img read more