With the highest-scoring NHL player from the Czech Republic looking on from the visitors' bench, Avalanche winger and Czech native Milan Hejduk was honored with a jersey retirement-like ceremony Monday night before the Avs faced legendary Jaromir Jagr and the Dallas Stars.
It only felt like a retirement ceremony, because Hejduk was at right wing for the opening faceoff, almost scored on his first shift and soon thereafter produced his first goal of the season and 372nd of his career in what ended as a 3-2 Dallas victory at the Pepsi Center.
Hejduk, the last remaining player from the Avs' 2001 Stanley Cup team, was playing in his 1,000th NHL regular-season game and became the first player in Avs history to reach the four-digit mark. Hockey Hall of Fame center Joe Sakic played a record 1,378 games with the franchise, but 508 came before the Quebec Nordiques moved to Colorado in 1995.
Sakic, an executive adviser for the club, presented Hejduk with a silver stick while the 14-year veteran gathered with his wife and twin sons near the Zamboni entrance. His sons were on skates and donning No. 23 Avs sweaters with "Hejduk" on the back. David and Marek Hejduk, 9, joined their father at the blue line during the national anthem.
"Getting the silver stick from Joe, definitely a special moment," Hejduk said. "I knew the kids would be there. It was cool. I'll remember that the rest of my life, that's for sure, and I'm sure they will too."
He added: "Brought back a lot of good memories. Definitely special moment."
Hejduk's sweater likely will officially be sent to the rafters by the team a year or so after he retires. He signed a one-year contract last summer.
Meanwhile, Jamie Benn and Jagr — who entered the game with a Czech-most 1,658 career NHL points — stole the show. Benn had two goals and Jagr assisted on Brendan Morrow's goal that gave the Stars an early 2-0 lead.
Read more: Avs fall to Dallas Stars; Milan Hejduk scores in his 1,000 game - The Denver Post http://www.denverpost.com/avalanche/ci_22519829/avs-fall-dallas-stars-milan-hejduk-scores-his#ixzz2K1djLGqo
Avs fall to Dallas Stars; Milan Hejduk scores in his 1,000 game
Denver Post | Feb 5