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Avalanche to retire Hejduk's No. 23 jersey

(Photo by Michael Martin/NHLI via Getty Images)

(TSX / STATS) -- The Colorado Avalanche announced plans Wednesday to retire former forward Milan Hejduk's No. 23 jersey this season.

The ceremony to raise Hejduk's number to the Pepsi Center rafters will take place prior to the game against the Minnesota Wild on Jan. 6.

Hejduk's No. 23 will be the sixth sweater number retired in the history of the Avalanche, joining Joe Sakic (No. 19), Peter Forsberg (21), Patrick Roy (33), Adam Foote (52) and Ray Bourque (77).

"Milan was a tremendous player, a great teammate, a winner and a true professional in every sense," Avalanche general manager Joe Sakic said in a statement. "He had some of the quickest and smoothest hands of anyone I ever played with, was an elusive skater, had a great release, terrific hockey sense and vision. Milan was not only one of the great goal scorers in the history of the franchise, but also one of the best in the NHL for over a decade.

"Milan was one of the most humble players I ever had the privilege of competing with. He was a quiet leader who led by example and always represented this organization and himself with class. His number 23 certainly belongs in the Pepsi Center rafters."

Hejduk, 41, played all 14 of his NHL seasons with the Avalanche and was a member of the 2001 Stanley Cup championship team. He finished his career with 805 points (375 goals, 430 assists) in 1,020 games with Colorado.

Hejduk appeared in his 1,000th game on Feb. 4, 2013, against Dallas, becoming the first player in Avalanche history to play 1,000 career regular-season games. The only other franchise player to reach 1,000 contests was Sakic, who appeared in 508 games with Quebec and 870 with Colorado (1,378 total).

Hejduk captured the franchise's first-ever Maurice "Rocket" Richard Trophy as the NHL's leading goal scorer in 2002-03. The Usti-nad Labem, Czech Republic, native was a Calder Trophy finalist and a member of the NHL All-Rookie Team in 1998-99. He was named to the NHL's Second All-Star Team in 2002-03 and competed in three All-Star Games (2000, 2001, 2009).

"I am truly honored to have my jersey raised to the rafters alongside those great Avalanche players," Hejduk said. "From my rookie season here in Colorado, I always felt a tremendous sense of pride wearing this sweater and being a part of this organization. I was fortunate to play so many years here and I have so many wonderful memories.

"I would like to thank the Kroenke family and everyone at the Avalanche for this honor, it means so much to me and my family. I realized my lifelong dream of not only playing in the NHL but also winning a Stanley Cup and to spend my entire career in Colorado was very special. Thanks to all the Avalanche fans for your support, I can't wait to see everyone on January 6th."

Selected by the Quebec Nordiques in the fourth round of the 1994 draft, Hejduk ranks fourth in franchise history in both goals and points, and is fifth in assists.

Hejduk reached the 20-goal mark in 11 consecutive seasons from 1999-00 to 2010-11, tying the franchise record for consecutive years of 20 or more goals. He retired following the 2012-13 season after not getting a new deal.

A three-time Olympian, Hejduk captured a gold medal with the Czech Republic at the 1998 Winter Games in Nagano, Japan, and a bronze medal at the 2006 Olympics in Torino, Italy.

Updated September 13, 2017

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