Colorado Avalanche: Milan Hejduk, an Avalanche Legend

Dec 7, 2015; Denver, CO, USA; Colorado Avalanche alumni and current players are presented before the game against the Minnesota Wild at Pepsi Center. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 7, 2015; Denver, CO, USA; Colorado Avalanche alumni and current players are presented before the game against the Minnesota Wild at Pepsi Center. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports /

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The Colorado Avalanche are in near reach of a marked spectacle, the Stadium Series game on February 27. That Game comes with a set up, an Alumni game on the 26th, and Milan Hejduk will return to play in it.

The Duke, as Milan Hejduk is known, is a Colorado Avalanche legend, there is no doubt about that. He played his entire career for the Avalanche, and racked up 805 points in 1,020 games.

In fact, Milan Hejduk is an intriguing feature for the Colorado Avalanche because there is certainly reason to believe that his jersey No. 23 should be retired.

However, he’s only been retired from the NHL since the conclusion of the 2012-13 season, and he only played 29 games that season due to injury.

Nonetheless, his jersey might as well be retired already — and probably will be soon in actuality — because no player on the current Avalanche roster wears No. 23. In fact, when Francois Beauchemin came over from Anaheim he switched from No. 23 to No. 32.

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Respect for Hejduk’s contribution to the Colorado Avalanche over 14 seasons certainly has to permeate the entire organization. Patrick Roy and Joe Sakic are definitely aware of his efforts first hand.

Anyway, the Alumni rosters have received steady additions of late, and the most up-to-date edition can be found here.

The Duke of Burgundy and Blue

Technically, Milan Hejduk is the only player to complete his entire career with the Colorado Avalanche. But, Joe Sakic played 20 seasons with the Quebec Nordiques and Avalanche, while Alain Cote played his entire career for the Quebec Nordiques.

Essentially he is one of three players to spend his entire career with the franchise in the 37 years of it’s existence, and one of two players to accomplish that feat in the 20 years of Colorado Avalanche history.

He also holds the record for the most career games in an Avalanche sweater, even more than Mr. Joe.

Those stats are impressive alone, but he also received the Maurice “Rocket” Richard trophy in the 2002-2003 season with 50 goals, won a Stanley Cup in 2001, and spent a brief stint as the Colorado Avalanche captain for the 2011-12 season.

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He also racked up 11 straight 20+ goal seasons in his 14 year career, and is the third highest scoring Czech-born player in NHL history behind Jaromir Jagr and Patrik Elias.

Suffice it to say, it will be a joy to see him return to the ice in the Alumni game because he has contributed an immeasurable amount to the Colorado Avalanche organization.

He still lives in Colorado, and has even expressed interest in joining the Avalanche organization in some capacity somewhere in the future.

Obviously, the guy is Colorado Avalanche royalty, which makes his Alumni Game appearance an anticipated affair of the highest degree, particularly since he is the shortest removed from actually playing in the NHL.

The Duke’s Alumni Game Significance

As I have already mentioned, there only two players on the roster that can say they played their entire careers for the franchise that was the Nordiques and is now the Avalanche.

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As such, he certainly deserves to be included in the festivities, especially since this certainly stands to be a competitive affair, even if it won’t possess the same fervor it used to.

Think it won’t be competitive? Then why is Patrick Roy practicing as often as he can in order to prepare for the game? Sure, chalk it up to his unquestionable competitive nature, but if he has anything to say about the matter he’ll ensure a victory.

The Duke stands to contribute to that desired victory surely, and it will certainly be fun to watch.

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All Avalanche fans are accustomed to the level of rivalry that took place between these two clubs during the late 90’s and early 2000’s. So, it will be fun to watch that rekindled, even in some passive manner, when these two clubs meet on February 26.

Milan Hejduk is another in a long line of players that Avalanche fans are excited to see, but he certainly holds a special place in many hearts amongst the Avalanche fan-base, so his return to the ice — even if it’s only a game — will be welcomed uproariously.