After not signing on with another team for the 2013-14 NHL season, Czech newspaper Blesk is reporting that 37-year old Milan Hejduk will officially announce his retirement at a press conference sometime in the next month.
The former Colorado Avalanche captain told the paper that he wanted to hang up the skates after the 2013 season, but his agent told him to wait and see if any offers from other teams came. Hejduk also said that he could have continued playing somewhere in Europe, but retirement is his ultimate decision.
"If I wanted to, I could play in the Czech Republic or go somewhere in Russia for the money. But I do not want to go. I can not even say I missed hockey," he said (translated).
Drafted by the Quebec Nordiques in the fourth round of the 1994 NHL Draft, Hejduk would never actually don the jersey, instead playing in the Czech Republic for the next four years before finally joining the Avalanche for the 1998-99 season.
He finishes his career with 375 goals, 805 points, a 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 World Championships.
Is he Hall of Fame worthy?
It's an impressive resume for sure, one, especially with his international success, that likely puts him on the bubble beginning with the 2016 class.
Whether or not there's an opening for him at the Hockey Hall of Fame in the future, he'll always be a big part of Avalanche history (who could forget this goal celebration?). He may never get to be enshrined on Yonge Street, but his No. 23 should be honored in the Pepsi Center rafters as the Denver Post's Adrian Dater, who hipped us the to news, writes:
I’m sure the Avs will, at the least, hold a special night for him at some point. Will he get his No. 23 retired? I don’t know for sure, but I would bet he will. And I think he would deserve that. He scored 375 goals and 805 points in 1,020 games, all with the Avs. He scored 20 or more goals in 11 straight seasons. He led the NHL in goals one season (2002-03, with 50) and won a Stanley Cup. He deserves to be in the Avs’ raftered pantheon.
In his final season with the Avalanche, Hejduk saw his production (4 goals, 11 points) and time on-ice (13:09) dip. But as he saw the end of his career coming, he kept an eye on the future of the franchise in helping to select Gabriel Landeskog as the team's next captain.
"[Hejduk] had faith in me," Landeskog told Puck Daddy in Sept. 2012. "He believed in me as a captain and a player. That means a lot to me, especially coming him being such a respected player all around the league and in our dressing room."
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