Ever since defenseman Adam Foote played his final game last April, the Colorado Avalanche have been without a team captain.
This morning, Milan Hejduk, 35, was named the third captain since the franchise moved to Denver in 1995. Joe Sakic was captain from 1995 until he retired in 2009. Foote wore the "C" on his jersey for two seasons before retiring this summer.
From the Colorado Avalanche press release:
Milan is a player who leads by example both on and off the ice, said Avalanche Head Coach Joe Sacco. He is a product of this organization and won a Stanley Cup with this franchise. He is well respected among his teammates and we feel he deserves this opportunity and responsibility.
The Avalanche had played the first 17 games of the season without a captain, going a middling 8-8-1. Hejduk has been one of the most consistent players on the roster for many years and has scored 20 or more goals for 11 straight seasons, a franchise record. This season, Hejduk leads the team with seven goals and is second on the team with 12 points, just behind Matt Duchene's 13 points.
While some have suggested Ryan O'Reilly, Duchene, Paul Stastny, or Erik Johnson as the next franchise captain, the choice of Hejduk makes quite a bit of sense. The veteran has the respect of the entire team and this is a great way to honor his career with Colorado. It also allows some of the younger players another season or two to grow into that leadership role.
The Florida Panthers currently remain the only NHL franchise without a named captain.