Monday, November 14, 2011

The Duke Becomes a Captain

Captain Hejduk

Fresh from the Avalanche twitter account, the Avs finally have a new captain.

In a tweet at 10:57 ET this morning, the Avalanche revealed:
MILAN HEJDUK NAMED CAPTAIN: Veteran winger to become third captain in Avalanche history. Details to follow.
For many, Hejduk is the obvious choice to captain the Avs. In terms of all-time Colorado statistics, Hejduk is near the top of almost all of them.

For the regular season, Hejduk is:

-1st in games played (910)
-1st in game winning goals (58)
-2nd in goals scored (357)
-2nd in points (757)
-2nd in power play points
-3rd in assists (400)
-4th in +/- (120)

Hejduk also has the third most playoff points in team history (behind Sakic and Forsberg) and was part of the 2001 Stanley Cup team. He is the only active Avalanche player remaining from that group.

He is also tied with Joe Sakic for most consecutive 20-goals seasons (11) and is on-pace to top twenty goals (once again) this season.

Many have been calling for the Avalanche to name a captain. After the Avalanche fell to the Flames last Monday, Adrian Dater wrote,
My game story from tonight centered a lot around the fact the Avs still don’t have a captain. Which begs the question: is there one on this team? Or, is it just a team full of complementary guys? I think, at this point, it’s a fair question.
In a move that seems (on the face of it, anyway) to be more symbolic than anything (are the younger Avs suddenly going to be looking up to Hejduk more than they were already?), Hejduk will need to help right the ship for the struggling Avs, who currently hold a putrid 2-6-0 record at home.

Fans have never known #23 to be the most vocal of players, but there's no doubt that he still works hard and does the right things on and off the ice. He's a winner, and a guy who has been clutch in key situations before.

I can't help but feel a little disappointed that I'm not writing about Ryan O'Reilly taking this role. He has really elevated his game this year, and by all accounts, is the hardest working player on the team.

Then again, maybe the 20-year-old isn't quite ready to assume the role.

Congratulations to Mr. Hejduk, who will no doubt be one of the last Avalanche players (after Adam Foote) for a long while to get his number retired upon finishing his career. He's been one of my favorite players for over a decade now, and he is fully deserving of the "C."

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