Colorado Avalanche: The Retirement of Milan Hejduk’s No. 23 Sweater

DENVER, CO - APRIL 27: Milan Hejduk
DENVER, CO - APRIL 27: Milan Hejduk /

The Colorado Avalanche are set to retire the No.23 sweater, which belonged to Milan Hejduk. He was a staple for this team.

On Saturday at the Pepsi Center the Colorado Avalanche will honor Milan Hejduk with a pregame ceremony before they take on division rival the  Minnesota Wild. Fans have been instructed to be in their seats by 5:45 pm MT.

No other player has worn the no. 23 since Hejduk retired after the 2012-2013 season. It will be the 6th number Colorado has retired. That no. 23 sweater is set to join Joe Sakic (19), Peter Forsberg(21), Patrick Roy(33), Adam Foote (52 ) and Ray Bourque (77). The jersey will raised to the rafters in a special ceremony.

Hejduk was a 1994 fourth-round draft selection by the Quebec Nordiques, who in 1995 moved to Colorado. He continued to play in his native Czech Republic until the 1998-99 season. Hejduk was given the no. 23 in his first NHL camp and stuck with it his whole career.

Hejduk played 14 NHL seasons, all with the Colorado Avalanche. There are lots of good memories from those 14 years. Naturally one of the greatest memories includes helping the team capture the 2001 Stanley Cup.

colorado avalanche
Czech professional hockey player Milan Hejduk of the Colorado Avalanche hoists the Stanley Cup over his head in celebration of their championship victory over the New Jersey Devils, Denver, Colorado, June 9, 2001. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images) /

Hejduk enjoyed a career of 375 goals and 805 points in 1,020 games. Also he captured the first Maurice” Rocket” Richard trophy for being the lead goal scorer. There are a lot of good moments to look back on — including the time he scored in his 1,000th game:

This week leading up to the ceremony have been reminded of some good moments by Hejduk. The fans have enjoyed going back in time to celebrate a good player. Indeed, The Duke is remembered fondly by both teammates and fans.

Former teammate Joe Sakic said of Hejduk:

"“Milan was a tremendous player, a great teammate, a winner and a true professional in every sense. “Milan was one of the most humble players I ever had the privilege of competing with. He was a quiet leader who led by example and always represented this organization and himself with class. His number 23 certainly belongs in the Pepsi Center rafters.”"

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Hejduk remarked that he’d always felt a “tremendous sense of pride” wearing the Colorado Avalanche’s sweater. He added,  I was fortunate to play so many years here and I have so many wonderful memories.”

Milan Hejduk was named team captain on November 14, 2011, the third in Colorado Avalanche history after Joe Sakic and Adam Foote. He spent the 2011-12 season as the Avalanche captain before recommending the current captain, Gabriel Landeskog, take over the title.

On top of everything else, Hejduk always had a good attitude:

Milan Hejduk was previously named to the Colorado Sports Hall of Fame. However, he cherishes this honor:

"” This probably the biggest recognition of my career that’s for sure. My jersey is going to be hanging with all the greats here.”"

Hejduk commented that he “can’t wait” to see all the fans during the January 6th ceremony.

Next: Tribute to The Duke

It should be a fun game to watch as the Colorado Avalanche celebrate a great player. Avalanche fans should head to the Pepsi Center on Saturday. In what should be a memorable ceremony and fun game to follow.