CENTENNIAL, Colo. (AP) — Milan Hejduk still laces up his skates every day and heads out onto the ice, where his notoriously quick wrists continue to send puck after puck skittering into the net.
Only now he spends his time mentoring his 10-year-old twin sons, not rookie NHL players.
"I feel like they're at the age now where they need me more now than ever," said Hejduk, who announced his retirement Monday.
The announcement put an official end to his stellar 14-year NHL career with the Quebec/Colorado franchise that included the 2001 Stanley Cup. He played another six seasons in his native Czech Republic.
In addition to coaching youth hockey, Hejduk is also hitting the slopes and the links aplenty, so walking away from professional hockey, he said, "wasn't that difficult, really."
"It feels like I was retired for a while," said Hejduk, 38, who hadn't played this season after being limited by injuries to a career-low 29 games during the league's truncated season a year ago. "It was almost preparation for retirement."
Hejduk said he actually thought about calling it quits before last season but was nine games shy of 1,000 NHL games, so he returned in 2013 and finished his career with 375 goals in 1,020 games.
Only two Czech-born players have registered more points in NHL history: Jaromir Jagr and Patrik Elias.
"I was lucky enough to play for one organization, the Colorado Avalanche and I had a blast. It was awesome. I had a great time," Hejduk said at the team's practice facility as the sound of pucks hitting the boards and skates shaving the ice could be heard below.
Former teammate Joe Sakic, now the Avalanche's executive vice president of hockey operations, said Hejduk had incredible hands: "His release, along with his hockey sense and vision, made him one of the premier goal scorers in the NHL during his prime."
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