Anthony Duclair has already quite an interesting career in the NHL for someone that is just 23 years old.
He’s already played on four teams in the New York Rangers, Arizona Coyotes, Chicago Blackhawks, and currently the Columbus Blue Jackets. He has also had some off ice issues, been demoted to the minors and has yet to show why he was worthy of being drafted high in the 2013 draft.
He’s had one decent season so far and that was in 2015-16 when he had 20 goals and 24 assists for 44 points. Other that one season, Duclair has been a complete disappointment and a bust. Heck, people could even question whether he even belongs in the NHL.
To make matters worse for this still young NHLer, he is starting to fall out of favor with his head coach John Tortorella. On Monday, February 18, Duclair was a healthy scratch for his team’s game against the Washington Capitals.
When reporters asked Tortorella why Duclair was scratch, Torts apparently responded by saying that Duclair had “bad listening skills”. Then, in a conversation with Tom Reed of The Athletic (subscription required), Tortorella further expressed his displeasure with Duclair.
“I don’t think he knows how to play, I don’t,” Tortorella said. “It seems to me he’s like a player who feels he can get the puck because he’s tremendously skilled. He can skate. He has all those things you guys know. I just think he thinks he can go do whatever the hell he wants to do on the ice. You can’t do it in the National Hockey League.
“We have spent a lot of time trying to teach him, trying to teach him situational play, away from the puck. All the stuff we do with players. Sometimes, it looks like he is understanding. So to answer your question, I don’t know. I don’t know if he can’t comprehend it or if he’s just stubborn. But he is running out of time.”
What’s big here is that Tortorella does not trust Duclair. He even mentioned that his play away from the puck is not good, which is why he hesitates to use him when the team is looking to tie the game up because he is afraid that using him will result in a goal against.
One other thing that Tortorella said is that for Duclair, he has consistently shown that he simply does not get what to do and is a tough player to figure out in general.
“I think it’s worth it with (Duclair) because there is a tremendous upside,” Tortorella said Tuesday before the game. “But here we are, the fourth team, another coach pissing and moaning about him. Scratching him. Benching him. Somewhere along the line, I think he has to understand, ‘I have to be more attentive and I have to be more consistent.’ So in a round-about way, I don’t know what he is. I thought I was learning him, but I don’t know what he is.”
He may still be young, but this might be Duclair’s last chance to show that he belongs in the league. In order to do that, he needs to demonstrate a few things.
For starters, he needs to show that he can be consistent. I’m not just talking about putting up points as his effort on the ice has come into question by all the teams he has played for so far.
Secondly, Duclair needs to show that if he cannot put up points, that he can still play a well-rounded hockey game. He needs to show that he can play well at both ends of the ice, that he can be a responsible player, and that he can play in whatever role that Torts puts him in.
Lastly, he needs to show that he is willing to improve as a player. He’s still really young, which means that he needs to be more coachable and prove that he is willing, eager, and able to learn to be a complete NHL player.
If Duclair wants to have success with the Blue Jackets and earn Tortorella’s trust, he needs to get off the roller coaster and instead show that he can be consistent NHLer in every way.