Milan Hejduk is a right winger for the Colorado Avalanche who made some noise when he first came to the NHL, but has since fallen out of favor and has had a rough time winning back the hearts of the hockey world. This is Beyond the ‘C’: The Story of Milan Hejduk.
Hejduk had played in the Czech Republic on the team, HC Pardubice, before he came to the NHL and he was even named Czech Rookie of the Year in his first season with the team when he tallied 11 goals in 32 games. He was then drafted 87th overall by the Quebec Nordiques, who would later become the Colorado Avalanche, in the 1994 Entry Draft. He remained on HC Pardubice for a few more years until the end of the 1997-98 season. Within his time on HC Pardubice, he scored a total of 91 goals, 55 assists, and 146 points in only 5 season (117 games).
He then started his NHL career as a right winger for the Colorado Avalanche and in his rookie campaign registered 14 goals and 38 assists while playing in all 82 games for Colorado. After that he averaged between 50-70 points a season and almost broke 100 points a time or two. Hejduk was fortunate enough to be on the Stanley Cup winning team of 2000-01. He even won the Maurice “Rocket” Richard Trophy after his 50 goal season in 2002-03. During the NHL lockout of 2004-05, he returned to HC Pardubice and scored 25 goals in 48 games, helping the team win the Extraliga Title.
He eventually became the captain of the Avalanche on November 14th, 2011 after former captain, Adam Foote, had retired. He had a decline in his production during his first season as captain, but it didn’t appear to be because of a lack of effort. This lead Hejduk to think maybe it was time to step away from the game of hockey and has mentioned he wants to retire. Despite the statements he’s made however, he signed another 1 year contract for $2 million on May 18th, 2012. No one wants to retire, its tough to let go and just walk away. Even after a down year Hejduk may feel he has something left in the tank and possibly something to prove.
Trivia Time: As of 2012, who is the only other player that was drafted by the Quebec Nordiques who is still active in the NHL?
A) Nicklas Backstrom (G- Minnesota)
B) Mike Green (D- Washington)
C) Jiri Hudler (RW- Calgary)
D) Tim Thomas (G- Boston)
The answer will be revealed at the end of the post.
I respect anybody who tries to lead a team through bad times and tries to remain hopeful that the sunshine is just around the corner. However, Hejduk’s skills are diminishing and he just isn’t the player he used to be. While he probably can’t tally 70 points anymore, Hejduk can still be a veteran presence and leader on a young, rebuilding Colorado Avalanche squad. The question is whether or not he’s up to the challenge and I’m sorry Avs fans, I don’t think he is.
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Trivia Time Answer:
As of 2012, Milan Hejduk and Tim Thomas are the only Nordiques left standing in the NHL. Technically, it was a little bit of a trick question because Thomas is taking a one season hiatus, but he is still considered an active player in the NHL.