NHL Colorado Avalanche: Milan Hejduk Should Be the Next Team Captain
In a recent article, I made a case as to why Erik Johnson will be the next captain of the Colorado Avalanche.
One of the comments, by Jared Starling, proposed an alternate viewpoint, which inspired me to take a look at more than just Johnson.
So this is the second in what will be a series of pieces about the Avalanche players who have a chance at being the team's next captain.
Milan Hejduk has had a long and prosperous career in the NHL that has started and will end with the Colorado Avalanche.
This career has seen him win a Stanley Cup and a goal-scoring title for his only career 50-goal season.
His international achievements are just as impressive, with Olympic gold and bronze medals to his credit.
So why should Hejduk be the next captain of the Colorado Avalanche?
First off, Hejduk has stuck with this team throughout his entire career and been incredibly loyal to the Avalanche. As a reward, the Avalanche have seen countless highlight reel goals and trips to the playoffs.
Hejduk just knows how to make things happen and knows what it takes to win games. Every single young player in that locker room, which is a lot, looks up to Hejduk because of his ability to make things happen.
He is the perfect role model for any young hockey player.
Second, Hejduk has played around greatness in the game of hockey. Not just guys who are really good but players who will be talked about for years to come as some of the best to every lace up the skates.
Players like Joe Sakic, Peter Forsberg, Ray Bourque and Adam Foote. Each of these guys were not only amazing players, but they were also fantastic leaders.
There is no doubt that Hejduk has picked up leadership qualities from each and every single one of these Hall of Fame-worthy players.
It's obvious that Hejduk could relay the messages that he's learned from each of these guys to the younger players on the roster; and I'm sure he's already been doing this.
Speaking of all of those players, Hejduk has one other thing in common with them. He was on the same team that won a Stanley Cup.
In fact, Hejduk is the last remaining member of the Colorado Avalanche to have won a Stanley Cup, and that experience is something that is more valuable than any of the rah-rah speeches another player might hear.
All Hejduk has to say is, "Back in 2001 when we won the Cup..." and instantly every single player in that room will be paying attention to what he has to say. Being able to command the attention and respect of your teammates is absolutely essential to a good captain, and a Stanley Cup ring will earn you that attention.
Hejduk has also been one of the most consistent performers in the history of the franchise. Only Sakic could have said he was a more consistent goal scorer than Hejduk. That is, up until last season, as Hejduk tied Sakic for the most consecutive 20-goal seasons in franchise history, a record that will likely belong solely to Hejduk by the end of this upcoming season.
This consistent performance and ability to just always get the job done could earn a player that captaincy all by itself.
Hejduk's demeanor could also be compared to one of the greatest captains that has ever player in hockey, Sakic.
Hejduk is soft-spoken and prefers to allow his actions on the ice to speak for him. He's calm and never gets rattled, and when the team needs somebody to make a big play in a big moment, somehow you just always feel like it's going to be Hejduk.
Sakic was exactly the same way. This soft-spoken nature makes the times when Hejduk does speak up to the team that much more effective because if Hejduk is the one saying it, it really needed to be said.
Hejduk has served as an alternate captain for the Avalanche for many seasons, and has always had an iconic member of the Avalanche ahead of him as captain (Sakic and Foote respectively).
Now that both of those players have retired, and other players have gone their respective ways, that iconic status now falls on Hejduk.
The Colorado Avalanche want their fans and their players to know that they are still capable of being an elite franchise, and making its most elite player their captain would be a way of showing that.
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