Avalanche blue liner Hejda: ‘I wanted to go home’

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There was a time when Colorado Avalanche defenseman Jan Hejda contemplated quitting on the National Hockey League.

That’s according to a story in The Denver Post, which chronicled Hejda’s struggles in the Edmonton Oilers’ system during the 2006-07 season, when he first broke into the league. His time with the Oilers also included a stop in Hamilton in the American Hockey League.

Not the greatest situation for a then 27-year-old with a young family in a new country.

It was tough. I was a 27-year-old guy who’d already won a world championship with the Czech, but they were treating me like I was 19 and just a rookie,” Hejda told The Denver Post. “I’m doing bag skates in Hamilton, missing my family. I wanted to go home.”

After his troubles in the Oilers’ organization, Hejda has moved on to find success in the NHL, with the Columbus Blue Jackets and now with the Avalanche. He also played for the Czech Republic in the 2010 Vancouver Olympics.

In his third full season with the Avalanche, and at the age of 35, he’s averaging just over 22 minutes of ice time a game, which is second on the team behind his partner on the blue line Erik Johnson.