Forward Milan Hejduk couldn’t have picked a better game to score his first goal of the season. After being honored by the Avalanche in a pregame ceremony Monday night, Hejduk buried a rebound in the back of the net during the first period.
"I never expected a career like this, so I'm pretty happy," Hejduk said. "I'm pretty happy I've played for one organization. It's pretty special. I've stayed healthy and shown a decent level of play, so the team wants to keep you."
Hejduk becomes the 30th player to play a thousand games with one team; the first to do so entirely in an Avalanche uniform.
Hejduk tied a franchise record with 20 or more goals in 11 straight seasons. He also won the Rocket Richard Trophy in 2003, as the league’s leading goal-scorer (50).
Last season, however, was a struggle for the 37-year old Czech native. After being named captain in November, he went into an offensive slump. Usually a model of consistency, Hejduk finished with only 14 goals.
This summer, he stepped down as captain; clearing the path for Gabriel Landeskog to become the youngest in league history.
"He's somebody that, when young players come into this organization, they should look at him and model themselves after him,” said Coach Joe Sacco. “He's prepared, he's fit, always in good shape. He just goes about his business in the right fashion every day. It's a great accomplishment for a great person.”
Unfortunately, the festivities did not do enough to inspire a victory from the Avalanche, who fell 3-2 to the Dallas Stars. Hejduk did have a chance in the waning seconds after receiving a pass in the slot from Matt Duchene, but was unable to get off a shot before the final buzzer.