The need to trade center Matt Duchene has reached a critical point, and general manager Joe Sakic and the Avalanche might look desperate to deal him sooner rather than later.

On Thursday, the first day of training camp, coach Jared Bednar and  several players as well faced questions regarding Duchene’s status, proving that the situation has already seeped its way into the atmosphere of the locker room and is interfering with the team’s ability to focus on the task at hand.

As Duchene met with an eager media, the uncomfortable, 20-second session left little doubt that the relationship between the 26-year-old and Colorado’s front office has withered well beyond the point of no return. “Guys, to start, I’m not taking any questions right now. I’m here to honor my contract,” Duchene said. “I’m here for respect of the fans, and I’m here for my teammates. I had a great summer training, and I’m in good physical condition — so thanks so much. I’ll see you in the next couple days, OK?”

No mentions of the front office or his current situation were made, but they weren’t necessary — Duchene’s silence on the matter said it all; he’s not happy with how the situation has unfolded, and feels he should have gotten his fresh start with another team by now. Duchene’s obvious discontent has now forced Sakic’s hand, leaving the Avalanche front office in need of a deal to prevent further distraction and toxicity within the dressing room.

Along with the internal issues that keeping Duchene on the roster presents, the urgency with which the Avalanche will need to act has likely reduced their leverage, and their chances at getting low-balled by potential trade partners have reached an all-time high, especially given the $6 million that Duchene’s owed over each of the next two seasons represents a number that may not be easy for many suitors to absorb this close to the season’s opening games.

There have been reports from other general managers from around the league that the Avalanche have been stubborn in dealing Duchene, and that stubbornness has likely not faded. However, Sakic will now have to be a more flexible in his negotiating; he is at risk of having a hand in creating a toxic environment and damaging the team, returning his players, fans and the media to the nightmare that was the 2016-17 season.

Complicating the matter is that any trade must bring back a strong and immediate return to ensure that the already-thin Avalanche squad isn’t made more so.

Nevertheless, Sakic will likely remain steadfast with regards to his asking price on Duchene; not only because the quality of the team will suffer greatly with an unfair trade — but because the outcome will certainly re-define Sakic’s career as a general manager. A lopsided trade will definitely raise the temperature on his already-hot seat, but at this point, it might be his only option — GMs from around the league smell blood in the water, and they know how dire the situation has become for the Avalanche.

Sakic and the Avalanche have found themselves — and perhaps even placed themselves — into a conundrum; the need to trade Duchene has now gotten desperate, while the need to ‘win’ any deal hasn’t changed.

Those two scenarios rarely go hand-in-hand. Only time will tell how the saga unfolds.