The Colorado Avalanche gave center Matt Duchene a $7 million slap in the face.

We all should be so lucky.

On Saturday, the Avs shouted an unmistakable message to Duchene: Grow up!

Of course, $7 million isn't exactly chump change.

But you don't have to read between the lines of the new two-year contract the Avs gave to Duchene to see that at age 21, he is at a crossroads with this team.

After being selected No. 3 in the 2009 draft, his three seasons have been defined as much by frequent trips to the doghouse of coach Joe Sacco as any of the 150 career points scored by Duchene.

After Gabriel Landeskog won the Calder Trophy as the NHL's top rookie last week, the main question regarding the Avalanche's young left winger is: How long before Landeskog adds a "C" to his burgundy and blue sweater as team captain? He's a cornerstone of future plans.

With Duchene, however, the question is far more perplexing: Can an organization fighting to reclaim elite status in the league count on a player who sometimes seems more obsessed with making the highlight reel than doing the dirty work required for winning hockey?