Florida Panthers Mourning Loss of Former Player
By Jennifer Jordan
Hockey is a sport where players are used to loss: loss of games, loss of sticks, even loss of teeth. Yet, these losses pale in comparison to the loss the Florida Panthers are presently feeling. Gaetan Duchesne, a former player, died on Monday, April 16th from an apparent heart attack while training inside a gym. According to reports, he collapsed and could not be resuscitated. He was only 44 years old.
Entering the world on July 11, 1962, Duchesne was â€“ like so many hockey players â€“ originally from Canada, born in Quebec City, Quebec.
His career in the NHL began in 1981 when he was drafted by the Washington Capitols in the eighth round as the 152nd overall pick. A six foot tall, 190 pound left winger, he was placed on the team directly out of training camp and played six seasons as a forward for the Capitols. In his rookie season, Duchesne scored 18 goals and had 19 assists. This earned him 37 points in 77 games. The best season in his career came during the 1986-1987 season where Duchesne made 17 goals with 35 assists, earning him 52 points.
At the end of the sixth season, he went home in a trade that landed him on the Quebec Nordiques. This trade also sent Alan Haworth and a first round draft pick to the Nordiques in return for Dale Hunter, and Clint Malarchuk. The first round draft pick turned out to be Joe Sakic, presently of the Colorado Avalanche.
During his stint in Quebec â€“ a stint that lasted two seasons â€“ Duchesne had 32 goals and 44 assists for a total of 76 points. He then ended up on the Minnesota North Stars and helped guide them to a 1991 Stanley Cup Finals appearance where the North Stars eventually lost to the Pittsburgh Penguins. This was the closest Duchesne ever got to Lord Stanley. He then went on to play for the San Jose Sharks who eventually dealt him to the Florida Panthers.
After 14 seasons in the NHL, Duchesne retired upon completion of the 1994-1995 season. He finished his career with 1,028 games, including 84 playoff games under his belt. He also had 179 goals and 254 assists for 433 points.
Post NHL, Duchesne played in the IHL for the Quebec Rafales, a team that had just relocated from Atlanta. Here Duchesne served as both a player and an assistant coach for the 1996-1997 season. After hanging up his skates, he served as an assistant coach for the Remparts of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. He retired altogether after the 2001-2002 season and went on to partner with his brother in the running of an architectural supply business.
Duchesne is survived by his wife, his daughter, and his son, Jeremy Duchesne. Jeremy currently plays for the Val d’Or Foreurs of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League and is a potential prospect for the Philadelphia Flyers.