As Joe Sakic often says, including during his induction ceremony at the Hockey Hall of Fame in November, his goal was to play one NHL game. Just one. The other 1,377 were bonuses.
Milan Hejduk feels the same way. The first one will always be the most memorable. But Monday night will be a monumental game too.
Hejduk, the last active member of the Avalanche's 2001 Stanley Cup-winning team, will play in the 1,000th game of his NHL career when the Avs meet the Dallas Stars at the Pepsi Center.
The right winger will be the first Avalanche player with 1,000 regular-season games in the burgundy and blue and the 30th in NHL history to play all 1,000 games with one franchise.
Sakic's 1,378 games with the franchise were split — 508 with the Quebec Nordiques and 870 with the Avs.
"You're happy to play the first game and then you go from there," Hejduk, who turns 37 on Feb. 14, said Sunday. "This is definitely way beyond my expectations. Staying in one place, one organization, has been the best thing about it. These days, with guys moving around, getting traded, it's rare to play with one organization for this long."
The Czech Republic-born Hejduk is in his 14th season with the Avs and has 371 goals and 797 points. He is on track to be the second Avalanche player with 800 points — Sakic was the first — and fourth in franchise history. Peter Stastny and Michel Goulet did it with the Nordiques. Only two Czech natives — active players Jaromir Jagr (Stars) and Patrik Elias (Devils) — have produced 800 points in the NHL.
Hejduk is still looking for his first goal in what probably will be his last season. He signed his third consecutive one-year contract last summer and is set to retire in Colorado. He and his family are building a house in Parker.
"We love it here,"said Hej- duk, who is married and has two young sons. "This is our home."
The Avs and the NHL know Hejduk's milestone is a big deal, which is why he will be honored in a pregame ceremony. The NBC Sports Network will show the event, pushing back the opening puck drop to 7:13 p.m.
Read more: Milan Hejduk set to play in his 1,000th game with Avalanche - The Denver Post http://www.denverpost.com/avalanche/ci_22512239/milan-hejduk-set-play-his-1-000th-game#ixzz2JwsDQy5G
Milan Hejduk set to play in his 1,000th game with Avalanche
Denver Post | Feb 4