Normally, the news of a top player returning from injury would be met with excitement.
But when Predators coach John Hynes announced Saturday morning that forward Matt Duchene would be back in the lineup after a six-week layoff, the reaction on social media was less than enthusiastic.
When Duchene last played March 4, the Predators’ season appeared to be lost. Over the next 22 games, though, they were seemingly unstoppable, resuscitating their playoff hopes in the process.
Correlation does not equal causation, however. The Predators did not become a better team because Duchene was out. Nonetheless, it was catnip for the anti-Duchene crowd, which mushroomed in size following his messy breakup with the Colorado Avalanche in 2017. (It did not help his cause that the Avalanche turned things around after he left.)
Duchene was not having a bad season when he was injured. He was third on the team with 66 scoring chances in all situations at the time, according to Sportlogiq, but his three goals in 23 games were the result of a career-worst 5.8 shooting percentage. (In his contract year with the Ottawa Senators and Columbus Blue Jackets in 2018-19, he shot a career-best 18 percent and scored 31 goals.)