Duchesne Takes Life Lessons from Hockey

Former Blues defenseman gained greater appreciation of family after hockey

Wednesday, 08.08.2012 / 12:22 PM / St Louis Blues - Features
By Chris Pinkert  - St. Louis Blues
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Duchesne Takes Life Lessons from Hockey


Retired defenseman Steve Duchesne sometimes focuses on making sure his 17-year-old daughter doesn’t meet a hockey player.

It’s not that hockey players are bad guys. Quite the contrary, actually. But Duchesne, a 16-year NHL veteran with 1,113 games of regular season experience, knows first-hand how much the game can demand: the physical and mental challenges, the frequent moves and most importantly, the extended time away from family.

“As a player, I was very selfish as far as being a husband and a father. It was all about me,” Duchesne said recently. “But (retiring from hockey) made me realize that there’s more than that. I try to live life to the fullest, especially with my family. I’m blessed. I really am.”

For a guy that went undrafted, Duchesne carved out quite a career for himself. He played for six NHL teams, including two stints with the Blues (1993-95 and the 1997-98 season), appeared in three NHL All-Star Games and won a Stanley Cup with Detroit in 2002. He reflects on his time in St. Louis fondly; he had three solid seasons playing alongside players like Brett Hull, Wayne Gretzky, Al MacInnis, Chris Pronger, and Dale Hawerchuk, to name a few. He played in 163 games with the Blues, recording 38 goals, 87 assists and a plus-39 rating.

He even considered making St. Louis a permanent home for his wife, Tracee, and their two kids.

“I’ll tell you what, St. Louis was an emotional time and it was a roller coaster,” he said. “I really loved St. Louis and we actually had a great time. I think back on the players we had and think ‘wow.’ We had some good years, we were winning and you always want to be in a place where you have a chance to win a Cup. St. Louis was definitely close at the time. It’s such a great sports town and having a parade there would have been unbelievable.

“It’s real close to my heart.”

Making St. Louis a permanent home, like so many Blues Alumni tend to do, didn’t work out for the Duchesnes. After the 1998 season, Steve returned to the Los Angeles Kings, where his career originally began in 1986. He eventually would finish his career with the Red Wings in 2002. Now, he makes his home in Westlake, Texas so he can be closer to his in-laws. “I wanted the kids to be closer to grandma and grandpa,” he said.

Although his primary focus is now on being a good husband and father, his passion for hockey has never waned. He began coaching a midget AAA team in Dallas and eventually met Texas businessman Doug Miller, who along with Duchesne, purchased the Central Hockey League's Allen Americans three years ago. Since then, former Stars Mike Modano, Ed Belfour, Craig Ludwig and Richard Matvichuk have joined the ownership group.

It’s been quite a transition for Duchesne, who went from an on-ice role to being a member of front office management.

“As a player, I never really knew what the (front office) staff was doing. But being in this position right now, I tell our players that every time you see one of the guys upstairs, I want you to thank them,” he said. “They work hard, a lot of them are underpaid and they have to work a lot of hours to sell seats. As a player, you have to perform, but what they’re doing on the second floor is a lot of work. It’s rewarding but it’s not that easy.”

Perhaps most rewarding is that the Allen Americans serve as a stepping stone to the American Hockey League. Last season, Duchesne helped 14 players reach the AHL and one, Jordie Benn, made his debut in the NHL.

Outside of hockey, Duchesne also recently got involved with SocialRain, an analytics and social media management company.

Like most players, he realizes he owes everything to the game. Sure, being on the road a lot kept him from being much help to his wife, who raised both of their children. But hanging up his skates made him realize just how important family was.

“(Hockey) taught me a lot. As a player, at first in my career, I wanted to do a lot of things on my own. But I realized the only way to shine out there was to be a teammate and treat my teammates special,” he said.

The same could be said for family.

“I’m grateful for everything that happened to me, and I don’t take anything for granted,” he said.

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WESTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 z - ANA 82 54 20 8 266 209 116
2 y - COL 82 52 22 8 250 220 112
3 x - STL 82 52 23 7 248 191 111
4 x - SJS 82 51 22 9 249 200 111
5 x - CHI 82 46 21 15 267 220 107
6 x - LAK 82 46 28 8 206 174 100
7 x - MIN 82 43 27 12 207 206 98
8 x - DAL 82 40 31 11 235 228 91
9 PHX 82 37 30 15 216 231 89
10 NSH 82 38 32 12 216 242 88
11 WPG 82 37 35 10 227 237 84
12 VAN 82 36 35 11 196 223 83
13 CGY 82 35 40 7 209 241 77
14 EDM 82 29 44 9 203 270 67

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2013-2014 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
A. Steen 68 33 29 17 62
T. Oshie 79 21 39 19 60
D. Backes 74 27 30 14 57
J. Schwartz 80 25 31 28 56
A. Pietrangelo 81 8 43 20 51
K. Shattenkirk 81 10 35 1 45
V. Tarasenko 64 21 22 20 43
D. Roy 75 9 28 -1 37
J. Bouwmeester 82 4 33 26 37
V. Sobotka 61 9 24 14 33
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
B. Elliott 18 6 2 .922 1.96
R. Miller 25 30 4 .918 2.64

 
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