Milan Hejduk, 2016 Inductee
Joe Sakic, Patrick Roy, Peter Forsberg and Adam Foote played with Milan Hejduk on some of the great Colorado Avalanche hockey teams that had Pierre Lacroix as the team’s President/General Manager.
Hejduk, who retired from the Avalanche in 2013, will join his former teammates and Lacroix as a member of the Colorado Sports Hall of Fame when he is inducted as part of the 2016 class.
“It’s awesome,” said Hejduk. “It’s a great accomplishment. It’s a great honor for me to be part of those great hockey players and other people in the Hall of Fame. It’s something that I never dreamed of being in.”
Hejduk, a native of Usti nad Labem, Czech Republic, was selected by the Quebec Nordiques in the fourth round of the 1994 National Hockey League draft and played his entire career with the Colorado organization.
He joined the Avalanche in 1998 and was a member of the NHL all-rookie team for the 1998-99 season.
He played 14 seasons with the Avalanche and was the captain for one campaign (2011-12). Hejduk is second in Colorado franchise history in games played (1,020), fourth in goals (375) and points (805), and fifth in assists (430).
Hejduk is the franchise leader in overtime goals (9) and second in game winning goals (59).
In the 2002-03 season, Hejduk won the Maurice “Rocket” Richard Trophy that is awarded to the league’s top goal scorer. He scored 50 that season.
Not only was Hejduk a member of Colorado’s 2001 Stanley Cup team, he also played on three Czech Republic Olympic teams, including the 1998 squad that captured the gold medal.
“He was an unbelievable hockey player,” said Sakic who is now the Executive Vice President/General Manager of the Avalanche. “He was a very smart player and very crafty. He was very consistent and really good along the wall defensively. He was very good at getting pucks off the wall.”
“He might have had the quickest hands of any player I ever played with, Sakic said. “He was hard to defend and his accuracy was amazing.”
Hejduk, who lives with his wife Zlatuse and twin sons in Parker, spends a lot of his time coaching his sons Marek and David who play hockey for the U12 Thunderbirds.
“It was a wonderful 14 years with the Avalanche,” he said. “For most of my career we had great teams, especially early in my career. I wish we could have won more Cups than one because the teams were certainly great. Overall the better years of my career were earlier.”
Hejduk was a quiet superstar who led the Avalanche in scoring during five different seasons and played in the NHL All-Star game on three occasions.
One thing, however, that people will always remember is what is now labeled as Hejduk’s “Duck Dance.” After he scored an overtime goal against Dallas in 2014, he imitated a duck walk, dove onto the ice and started swimming which was uncharacteristic for the humble Hejduk.