An occasion that many Avalanche fans have been eagerly anticipating is finally reality.
The Colorado Avalanche announced this morning that they will retire Milan Hejduk’s jersey number against the Minnesota Wild on Saturday, January 06. Hejduk’s #23 will become the sixth Avalanche jersey number to be retired, joining Raymond Bourque (2001), Patrick Roy (2003), Joe Sakic (2009), Peter Forsberg (2011), and Adam Foote (2013).
Drafted in 1994 by the Quebec Nordiques, the 87th overall pick would make his debut for the Avalanche during the 1998-1999 season, scoring 14 goals and adding 34 assists for a total of 48 points in his rookie campaign.
Many Avalanche fans may recall his “swim dive” celebration after scoring the overtime game-winning goal in a contest against the Dallas Stars during the 1999-2000 season.
Hejduk won the Stanley Cup with the Avalanche during the 2000-2001 season, and was awarded the Maurice “Rocket” Richard Trophy during the 2002-2003 season, setting a career high in goals (50), assists (48), and points (98). He was a three-time NHL All-Star Game selection (2000, 2001, 2009) and was named the third captain in Avalanche history, succeeding Adam Foote.
The Czech Republic native played in 1020 games during his career and, behind Joe Sakic, is the second Avalanche captain to play in over 1000 games. Hejduk is the only Avalanche captain to have reached this milestone playing his entire career with the Avalanche organization, as part of Sakic’s captaincy took place while the franchise was located in Quebec.
Hejduk retired in 2014, finishing with 375 goals and 430 assists, totaling 805 points throughout his career.
(Statistic data provided by avalanchedb.com and nhl.com)