DENVER (CBS4) – It’s been 11 years since the Colorado Avalanche slurped from the Stanley Cup and Milan Hejduk is the only player left from the glory days.
Back then, Hejduk probably thought the Avs would contend for a cup every year. It didn’t work out that way. The Avs will be lucky to make the playoffs this year, and it could be Hejduk’s final year.
Hejduk celebrated the 1,000th game of his career, all with the Avs, earlier this week. For him the 14 years have flown by. He remembers his first training camp like it was yesterday.
“I knew this was a really great team, right? A championship caliber team; had a chance to win the Stanley Cup right away, so it’s not easy to make that lineup,” Hejduk told CBS4’s Gary Miller.
Hejduk said it’s hard to pick the best player he’s ever played with.
“It’s hard to pick one. It’s Joe Sakic, Peter Forsberg, Patrick Roy; so I would pick each position — Ray Bourque, Rob Blake. It’s really difficult to pick one; just one player,” he said. “They were all great and Hall of Famers, right?”
But when it comes down to raw talent, Forsberg gets Hejduk’s nod.
“Peter was probably the most talented guy. And then Joe was probably the most effective guy. Like he was scoring huge goals at the right times when the team needed one.”
Hejduk also scored many big goals when the Avs needed them. He was part of the team when they were champions, but now, as his career winds down, the winning that seemed to come so easily early in his career has become much more elusive.
“I don’t know if it would be better if it was the other way around for me — early in the career you go through tough times and it gets better so you can almost retire on a positive note,” he said. “At least I’m happy I went through these times when we were really a great team. Those will always be really great memories that will stay with me forever.”
When Miller asked Hejduk if this will be his last season, he responded, “It seems like it … it went fast and I’m really happy I could be part of great teams and I had a blast.”
He said he wants Avs fans to remember him as a great person who always tried to work hard and leave everything on the ice.
“Hopefully they’ll remember me for a while.”