Colorado Avalanche to Honor Hejduk, Beat the Wild

DENVER, CO - SEPTEMBER 24: Tyson Jost /

The Colorado Avalanche need to win this important Central Division game against the Minnesota Wild after honoring one of their greats.

The Colorado Avalanche have an important game tonight. They are hosting the Central Division rival (and a team I personally hate) Minnesota Wild. Before the game, they’ll honor Milan Hejduk by retiring his jersey number.

This marks their second meeting of the season — the Wild won in the shootout in Minnesota on November 24. Everbody’s least favorite Minnesota players, Charlie Coyle and Chris Stewart, scored in the shootout. Another most-hated player, Nino Niederreiter, also scored in regulation.

In that game, the Minnesota Wild were without one of their (overpaid) stars, Zach Parise. He’s back:

And weird. I mean, he looks like a trained seal.

Anyway, the Avalanche would do well to win this game tonight. It would end their already-successful home stand on a high note against a hated team with a frustrating history. More on that momentarily.

How to Enjoy the Game

Game time: January 6, 7:00 pm MT
TV Networks: Altitude TV (Avs feed), FS-N+ (Wild feed)
Radio: Altitude Radio (AM 950)

Milan Hejduk to be Honored

The Colorado Avalanche love to have special ceremonies right before Wild games. They held their 20th Anniversary ceremony before the December 7, 2015 game (an overtime win for the Avs). Tonight, they’re going to retire Milan Hejduk’s no. 23 sweater before the game.

Hejduk played his entire 14-season career with the Avalanche. He is the only player to record 1,000 games as a Colorado Avalanche — Joe Sakic reached that total playing for both the Quebec Nordiques and the Avalanche.

Read more here:

Related Story: Avs to Retire Hejduk's Sweater

Do Over

More from Mile High Sticking

Tonight’s game is almost a do-over from one of the most frustrating games in Avalanche history. Ok, the season-opening back-to-back shutouts the Minnesota Wild handed to Avs after eliminating them from the 2014 Playoffs were equally frustrating, as was their attempted do-over the following season. (They blew a 4-1 lead in 5:07 in the third period.) Suffice it to say, there have been a lot of frustrating games with the Minnesota Wild.

However, the game I’m referencing happened on March 26, 2016. The Colorado Avalanche were neck-in-neck with the Wild for a playoff spot. Indeed, this late-season game against the Wild was seen as a de facto race to win that last playoff berth.

And the Colorado Avalanche went out and played some of their most apathetic hockey. That game started a downward spiral that saw them win only one more game in the final eight and free fall right out of playoff contention. Then-coach Patrick Roy could be heard screaming at the players down the hall from the locker room.

Personally, I was at that game, and I started doing shots about midway through. It was an awful game.

Tonight is their chance at a do-over. It’s not late in the season — in fact, this game stands as the half-season mark — but the two teams are neck-in-neck again.

The Minnesota Wild go into the game with a 22-16-3 record and 47 points, which puts them in that final wild card spot. The Colorado Avalanche go into the game with a 21-16-3 record and 45 points. And a game in hand. What’s more, with a win tonight, they can match the total number of wins they had last season — at the halfway mark.

I don’t want the Avs to win this badly because they usually blow it when so much is on the line, but… boy do I ever want them to win tonight.

C’mon, Colorado Avalanche. Do it for The Duke.

Next: Curious Case of Nail Yakupov

After tonight, the Colorado Avalanche will be on their bye-week. They don’t play again until Dallas on January 13. They will face the Wild two more times, on March 2 in Colorado and on March 13 in Minnesota.