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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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AWAY
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WESTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 ANA 66 42 17 7 196 179 91
2 NSH 65 41 17 7 193 158 89
3 STL 63 40 18 5 197 159 85
4 CHI 64 38 21 5 188 152 81
5 WPG 65 32 21 12 180 175 76
6 VAN 63 36 24 3 182 173 75
7 MIN 63 34 22 7 179 163 75
8 CGY 63 34 25 4 178 162 72
9 LAK 63 30 21 12 171 164 72
10 SJS 65 32 25 8 185 183 72
11 COL 64 28 25 11 170 183 67
12 DAL 64 28 26 10 199 212 66
13 ARI 64 20 37 7 139 218 47
14 EDM 64 18 36 10 145 213 46

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
V. Tarasenko 63 31 30 27 61
A. Steen 61 19 32 6 51
J. Schwartz 56 20 27 13 47
T. Oshie 55 17 27 11 44
D. Backes 62 21 22 4 43
K. Shattenkirk 49 8 32 18 40
P. Stastny 55 12 25 11 37
J. Lehtera 56 9 24 13 33
A. Pietrangelo 63 6 27 -2 33
P. Berglund 59 8 12 -2 20
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
B. Elliott 20 9 2 .921 2.20
J. Allen 17 6 3 .903 2.55

 
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