Games Played: 81
Takeaways/Takeaway and Giveaway Differential: 30 (+6)
Blocked Shots: 29
Milan Hejduk was named captain of the Colorado Avalanche this season. He became only the third player to wear the “C” on a burgundy and blue sweater. Overall, this had to be a frustrating season for Hejduk production-wise. Yet Hejduk still remained upbeat, and focused on his duties as a captain.
Despite the fact that Hejduk had difficulty scoring, he still managed to get past the 10 goal mark. He was a valuable member of the O’Reilly-Landeskog line for a lengthy stretch. While he didn’t hit often, when he did, the hits made something good happen for the team. As the captain of the team, it was clear he had the respect of all of his teammates, and enjoyed taking on the extra responsibilities. It was also excellent to see him avoid injury. He missed only one game due to a slight groin pull, but was otherwise healthy for the entire season. It is difficult to stay healthy while playing such a physically demanding sport, particularly as one gets older. At 36 years of age, he showed his commitment to overall fitness, setting a wonderful example for all of the younger players.
He earned only 37 points, the fewest he has ever had in a single season in the NHL (the previous low was 44 points, which happened in two different seasons where he missed 20+ games). He failed to meet the 20 goal mark for only the second time in his career, and the first time in 11 years. In the calendar year of 2012 he has only scored three goals. This is a man who once won the Rocket Richard Trophy for the most goals scored by a player during the regular season. He is used to the puck going in the net when he shoots it, but this year that was not the case.
Hejduk saw some time on the third and fourth lines, which was very unusual for him, however Coach Sacco needed to be playing the players who were producing. Hejduk is a top line player, and a top offensive threat, but he is going to need to have more success during the current season to warrant a position on that line.
I think Hejduk just needs to keep doing what he has been doing for the past 13 years. He needs to ensure he is physically in excellent shape, make sure he rests his body enough so that it is primed for another season. And if he continues shooting and handling the puck, he will be able to maintain his skill set.
Here is a feature from Altitude about Hejduk’s career from earlier this season:
And of course, we have the craziest celebration ever, made even stranger given the fact that Hejduk is typically so laid back:
Obviously in the “This Summer” category, I spoke as if Hejduk is for sure returning next season. The fact of the matter is, we don’t now if he will be. Hejduk has been signing one year deals for the past few years (valued around $3,000,000), and that goes for this season as well. Hejduk has said that he still feels he can play hockey at this level, but he will take his time this summer to weigh all of his options.
If for some reason the Avalanche decide they do not want to resign him, I really think he will retire, based on this:
“One thing is for sure: We will stay in Denver. This is our home.”
Should both he and the Avalanche decide he has at least another year left, he will sign a one year contract, for a similar amount of money to what he earned this season.