DENVER (AP) — The Colorado Avalanche brought back one of the last remaining links to the team's Stanley Cup glory days, signing captain Milan Hejduk to a one-year deal.
After the Avs missed the playoffs for a second straight season, the 36-year-old forward was torn between returning for a 14th season or skating off into retirement. In the end, Hejduk elected to give it one more shot, especially since he's only nine games away from reaching 1,000 for his career.
The soft-spoken Hejduk was an effective on-ice leader for Colorado in 2011-12. Under his guidance, the Avs improved by 20 points from the year before, when they had the second-to-worst record in the league.
Not only that, but the team saw the rise of forward Gabriel Landeskog, the Swedish standout who's a leading candidate for rookie of the year after a season in which he led the team with 22 goals.
"I believe in this organization and our young players and look forward to helping the team in any way that I can," Hejduk said. "My family and I are very excited to continue my career here in Denver."
Hejduk ranks fourth in goals (371) and fifth in assists (423) in franchise history.
What's more, his 794 career points trail only Jaromir Jagr (1,653) and Patrik Elias (894) among Czech-born players who have suited up in the NHL.
However, Hejduk's production slipped last season as he finished with just 14 goals. That's well below his usual standard, given that he had reached the 20-goal plateau in 11 straight seasons heading into 2011-12.