Matt Duchene heard all the warnings.
Everything will change after you hit 30, they said. Even elite athletes can't outrun Father Time.
Maybe not. But Duchene, at least, is making the man wait.
With his 31st birthday looming in January, the Nashville Predators' star is enjoying a career revival. And it's come not a moment too soon.
Since being drafted third overall by Colorado in 2009, Duchene had been an upper-echelon NHL scorer. Putting up 20-plus goals and 55-plus points each season was the standard. But since signing a seven-year, $56 million free agent contract with Nashville in July 2019, Duchene had produced just 19 goals and 55 points through 100 games leading into the 2021-22 campaign.
The Predators were expecting a difference-maker, and Duchene wasn't delivering.
Amid those offensive struggles came last season's lengthy injury absence, which tested Duchene physically and perhaps even more mentally. There were dark days then. And there were doubts. But never from him.
Duchene channeled his energy instead into a rebirth. On a line with Mikael Granlund and Filip Forsberg, Duchene has roared back to start this season with a team-leading 13 goals and 24 points in 24 games. That's nearly half the goal total of his career-high (30) scored back in 2015-16 with Colorado.
Duchene was in his prime then, and he need not have worried such heights would be impossible reach again.