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Milan Hejduk explains why he stepped down as Avalanche captain

By Adam Gretz | Hockey writer
Milan Hejduk stepped down after one year as Avalanche captain. (Getty Images)

Perhaps the biggest non-CBA-related development in the NHL this week (and it probably shows just how painfully slow the NHL is right now) was Tuesday's announcement by the Colorado Avalanche that 19-year-old Gabriel Landeskog would be taking over as the team's newest captain, replacing veteran Milan Hejduk.

It was a bit of a surprise given Landeskog's age, as well as the fact that Hejduk had been named the captain of the Avalanche just last season, playing only one year with the "C" on his sweater. Hejduk stepped down from the role and on Tuesday explained why he made the decision to remove himself from the position.

Basically, he didn't feel like he had a big enough role as a player to justify being the leader of the team.

"The captain should be somebody with a significant role on the team, probably on the top two lines, which I was not last year," said Hejduk, via Mike Chambers of the Denver Post. "It kind of feels weird when you're playing on the third and fourth lines and being captain. It didn't feel right.

"He's (Landeskog) going to be, in my mind, the franchise player for a long time," added Hejduk. "He's young, but he's got a good head on his shoulders. I think the organization is in good hands."

There is no doubt that Hejduk's role with the Avalanche diminished last season.
He logged an average of just over 17 minutes of ice time per game, which was the second-lowest mark of his career. The only season that saw him average fewer minutes was his rookie season in 1998-99 when he played just over 15 minutes per game. His role continued to decrease as the season progressed, his average ice time dropping down to the 13-minute mark over the final 20 games of the schedule.
Hejduk signed on to play at least one more season with the Avalanche back in May when he inked a one-year, $2 million contract to remain with the only team he's ever played for in his NHL career.
In 81 games last season he scored 14 goals to go with 23 assists. The 37 points were the lowest total of his career.

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