The Mile High City received exciting news Friday afternoon in the form of a new one-year contract worth $2 million for captain Milan Hejduk. This news comes just weeks after the Colorado Avalanche completed a surprising run to relevance in the Western Conference playoff race, before falling out in the final few contests.
The 36-year-old forward has spent all 13 years of his NHL career with the Avalanche, so it seems logical and respectable to continue his journey in the same city. His 991 career games, 371 goals and 423 assists all rank in the top five in Colorado history, which makes him one of the many greats to play in the franchises short time in Denver.
Hejduk has also played in 112 postseason contests in his career, which includes a Stanley Cup Championship in 2000-2001. He tallied 23 of his 76 playoff points that season, as he was one of the primary reasons that the Avalanche were able to capture a second cup.
This impressive list of accomplishments speaks to Hejduk’s importance on the current Colorado roster. The Avalanche are undeniably in a rebuilding mode, but are beginning to have the young pieces in place to make some noise in the NHL. So, the veteran leadership is fundamental in shaping the young players into what the Av’s want in their offensive and defensive strategy.
However, Hejduk’s numbers were down a bit in 2012. His 14 goals and 37 points were each the lowest of his career, which could be troubling moving forward. Obviously, with dangerous weapons like Gabriel Landeskog, Matt Duchene and Ryan O’Reilly (among others) Hejduk isn’t needed as much offensively; but, Colorado will need his time on the ice to remain valuable for the deal to work. The guy’s a true professional though, so I wouldn’t be too concerned.
According to twitter, the Avalanche locker room can’t wait to get Hejduk back in the building:
Great to see Milan Hejduk re-signing with the Avs. Great player and leader! – Ryan O’Byrne, Defenseman
Awesome to see Hedgy get a new contract. One of the greats! – Matt Duchene, Forward