MANNHEIM - Fans from around the world sent in a ton of questions for Matt Duchene, the 2010 Calder Trophy candidate from the Colorado Avalanche who's making his Worlds debut with Canada.
Duchene is on a point-per-game pace (1-2-3) as the Canadians head into the Qualification Round. Here's what the 19-year-old centre from Haliburton, Ontario, had to say for himself.
Is the World Championship what you expected, or has the level of competition surprised you at all? (Lisa Giamatti, Denver, Colorado, United States)
Yes, it is about what I expected. It is good to play against the best players from their respective countries.
At what time in your youth career did you realize that you would be good enough to play in the NHL and competitions like the IIHF World Championship? (Tyler, Raleigh, North Carolina, United States)
I don’t know if I can really pinpoint a time. It was always something that I had as a goal, something that I wanted to reach. So it is great to make it.
Where did you watch the Olympic gold medal game between Canada and the States, and what did you do when Sidney Crosby scored the winner? (Don Wilkins, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada)
I was with Adam Foote in his icehouse at his new house in Denver, watching it with his kids and a bunch of Americans. We were the only ones who cheered when Sidney scored. Footer’s oldest boy and I jumped up and yelled.
Was it at all intimidating going to play in the NHL this year straight out of major juniors? (Adam Richman, Madison, Wisconsin, United States)
I kind of expected it to be. But I ended up not being intimidated and in awe too much, so I was able to play my game and be confident out there.
How does the speed of players at the Worlds compare to the NHL average? (Paul Anderson, Calgary, Alberta, Canada)
It is similar. It is a different game on the big ice. Faster teams are harder to play against.
How much time have you gotten to spend around Joe Sakic, and what if anything has he told you about what it takes to be a successful NHL player? (Natalie Heinz, Denver, Colorado, United States)
I haven’t spent a lot of time with him. The times that I have talked to him, he has always had good advice for me. It is great to have a guy like him around to help.
Matt, I see you are wearing #92 at this tournament, same as Michael Nylander. I am a big fan of Michael's and am wondering if you, as a skillful centre, are a fan too? (Henrik Svensson, Uppsala, Sweden)
No, actually I am wearing it because Bernie Nicholls, who is from my home town of Haliburton, wore it in Chicago when he couldn’t wear number 9.
What are some of the special things that Hockey Canada does for you guys to make going over to Europe as comfortable and easy of a transition as possible? (Sheryl Wozniak, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada)
The travel is comfortable and everything is set up for you, so you are not wondering what is going on. You know the schedule all the time and you know everything is set out for you.
Where do you find out the details on NHL players' sticks (curves, lies, etc.) that you're so fascinated by? (Adam Churchill, North Andover, Massachusetts, United States)
I just watch games and notice things when I play against guys. That is basically where I see it.
What was your favorite city to play in this season? (Corey Brown, Washington, Pennsylvania, United States)
Other than Denver, it would be Chicago or San Jose.
Who was your roommate on the road this season, and how was it living with him? (Tomi Terttunen, Espoo, Finland)
Brett Clark. He was great. He was an older guy, so I could talk to him about his past experiences in hockey and even his life as an adult.
What do you like to do in your spare time - video games, books, movies? (Randy Shore, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada)
Matt, who is the best centre you've played against, in international competitions, in juniors, or in the NHL? (Alexei Alexeyev, St. Petersburg, Russia)
In what ways has this experience in the World Championships changed the way you play? Has it affected how you're going to train in the off-season? (Cheryl Bradley, Huntington Beach, California, United States)
I don’t think it has really affected anything. I think if I get away from the way I play in the NHL, it gets harder. You have to keep things simple. I'm going to continue to train the way I have the past few summers, and hopefully I will continue to improve.
Thank you, Matt.