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Longtime Avalanche forward Hejduk to retire

Wednesday, 11.13.2013 / 11:42 AM / News

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Longtime Avalanche forward Hejduk to retire
Former Colorado Avalanche star forward Milan Hejduk told a newspaper in his native Czech Republic that he has decided to retire.

Former Colorado Avalanche star forward Milan Hejduk told a newspaper in his native Czech Republic that he has decided to retire.

"I decided to quit hockey," he told Blesk, a Czech daily newspaper. "I just have to announce it officially. In frame of one month there will be a press conference. And that's it, I'm done. … I wanted to quit after the end of last season. But my agent told me not to be crazy, that maybe some interesting offer would show up. But I realized I did not want to move somewhere else."

Hejduk, 37, spent all 14 of his NHL seasons with the Colorado Avalanche. The team opted not re-sign him this summer when he became an unrestricted free agent.

His 375 goals and 805 points are the fourth-most in the history of the Avalanche/Nordiques franchise, and his 1,020 games played for the organization are second only to Hockey Hall Fame member Joe Sakic.

Hejduk tied for second in scoring in the 2001 Stanley Cup Playoffs with 23 points in 23 games as the Avalanche won the Stanley Cup. He led the League with a career-best 50 goals in 2002-03 and won the Rocket Richard Trophy. He also had a career-high 98 points that season.

He scored at least 30 goals five times and had at least 20 goals in 11 straight seasons (1999-2011). However, injuries slowed him his final seasons, and he had four goals and seven assists in 29 games last season.

Hejduk said he's healthy now, and leaving hockey will allow him to stay that way.

"In normal life my knees are fine," he said. "That is the other reason why I quit. I did not want to ruin my health. In the recent years I have taken painkillers all the time, which was not ideal. There is life after hockey too. For example, I want to do some skiing. The (skiing) season here is starting just now."

The youth hockey season also is underway. Hejduk and his wife live in the Denver area. His sons David and Marek play hockey and Hejduk coaches their peewee team.

"I am on the ice every day," he said. "I train the guys, try to teach them some things. To be honest I can't say I miss [pro] hockey."

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