Duke to Retire

Doug Pensinger

Czech newspaper Blesk is reporting that Avalanche forward Milan Hejduk is planning to officially retire.

Via Puckdaddy (which was via Adrian Dater, apparently), Milan Hejduk plans to announce his retirement sometime in the next month.  After 14 seasons in the Burgundy and Blue, Hejduk is planning on hanging up the skates after not signing a contract this offseason.

Hejduk's career numbers include 375 goals, 805 points,  the 2001 Stanley Cup, three All-Star Game appearances, a Rocket Richard Trophy, 11 straight 20-plus goal seasons, gold and bronze Olympic medals and a bronze in the 1998 World Championships. Beyond his on-ice contributions, he also served as captain for a short time before helping to choose Gabriel Landeskog for the role.  His off-ice leadership during the later years of his career were a beacon during some dark Avalanche seasons.

Much like the Puckdaddy article, I think the MHH faithful are ready to discuss whether Hejduk has a Hockey Hall of Fame worthy career.  One thing I don't think anybody will deny is that we will see #23 hanging from the rafters at some point or at least significantly honored by Colorado.

I for one will miss seeing his beautiful shot embarrass goalies throughout the NHL and he still has the best goal celebration from the glory years!

As often happens here at MHH, two writers jumped on breaking news and wrote separate articles. As each focused on different aspects of Hejduk's retirement, I thought I would add some of what I wrote here as it focuses on the Czech article's contents.

Despite wanting to announce his retirement at the end of the season, his agent, Jiri Crha, encouraged him to wait and see what kind of offers might come his way. Certainly, he could have played in his home country or Russia, but Hejduk didn't want to move his family. So, like many suspected, it was the Avalanche or nothing for him.

He admitted that he felt old last season, that his heart was there but his body wasn't. He knew that his health should be valued and that taking pain killers constantly is no way to live life. Moreover, he enjoys the time he gets to spend with his wife and children. He says that the lockout showed him how good it could be to wake up in the morning and drive the kids to school, rather than flying in late after a game and not getting to see them.

He doesn't seem to regret the decision, nor really miss hockey. He's on the ice regularly as a coach and mentor to his children. And ski season is starting; he says he's not good, but being the Hejduk we all know and love, his humility probably doesn't do his skill justice.

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