Milan Hejduk didn’t sign with anyone to play this season, and now it appears there’s a good reason for that.
According to a report from iSport (link in Czech) in the Czech Republic, Hejduk says he’s decided to retire from hockey and a formal announcement is coming soon.
Hejduk played 14 seasons in the NHL, all with the Colorado Avalanche. He was a key member of their 2001 Stanley Cup-winning team and was the Rocket Richard winner in 2002-03 when he led the league with 50 goals. He also was part of the gold medal-winning Czech Republic team in 1998.
Through his NHL career, Hejduk had 375 goals and 805 points in 1,020 career games. In the postseason he was a major player as well piling up 76 points in 112 career playoff games.
Those may not be Hall of Fame-like numbers, but he’ll be remembered as being one of the Avalanche’s most consistent scorers spanning two eras with that franchise. He started his time there playing alongside Joe Sakic and closed it out with the likes of Matt Duchene, Paul Stastny, and Gabriel Landeskog. That’ll do.
After 1,020 regular season and 112 playoff games with the Colorado Avalanche, Milan Hejduk’s time with the only NHL team he’s ever known is over. If he has his way, that doesn’t mean his NHL career is over, too.
The veteran winger’s agent Jiri Crha told the Denver Post that he hopes to land with a different team for the 2013-14 season.
“He wants to keep playing,” Crha said. “If there is any team that really wants to use him for his offensive skills, he still believes he could do it.”
Crha claims that the 37-year-old is “feeling very good health-wise again” and “still valuable.”
There’s little doubt that times have been tough for Hejduk lately.
After scoring 20+ goals in 11 straight seasons, the Czech-born forward was limited to 14 goals and 37 points in 2011-12 and 11 points in 29 games last season.
One might assume that some team would be glad to give him a bargain deal, but Hejduk’s agent says he wants more than a minimum contract.
“He’s not going to take some (minimum) salary,” Crha said. “It could be a contract with bonuses or something like that, if he achieved them then it’s fair to both sides. But we’ll see, as I said there is no rush.”
37-year-old forward Milan Hejduk will not play Friday as the 29th place Colorado Avalanche focus on giving their younger players an opportunity to show what they can do. However, Hejduk will participate in the season finale on Saturday, according to the Denver Post.
Although Hejduk hasn’t made it official, there’s a very good chance that it will be his final NHL game. Hejduk, who missed some time with shoulder and torso injuries, averaged just 13:01 minutes of playing time per contest in 28 games this season.
Hejduk has declined in recent years, but in his prime he was an elite player. He reached or surpassed the 70-point mark in five separate seasons and scored a career-high 50 goals in 2002-03. He also played a major role in the Colorado Avalanche winning the Stanley Cup in 2001.
He played all of his 1,019 NHL games with the Avalanche and ranks fourth on the franchise leaderboard with 805 points.