Interview: Hejda and Hejduk (2.)Fanclub Eurolanche brings you an exclusive interview with two players of Colorado Avalanche.
Eurolanche members met with Jan Hejda and Milan Hejduk in Czech Republic. They were talking about both starts of their careers, the biggest successes and also about the present and the future. The interview has three parts. The last one will be published on Thursday. Here is the first part.
Milan, what has higher value for you: Nagano 1998 or Stanley Cup 2001?
They have the same. It is hard to compare. You are playing all year and two months of the playoffs for Stanley Cup. Olympics are about your national team, but takes 14 days. I think they have the same value for me.
How looked the celebration after game 7 in 2001 and your day with the Cup in Pardubice, Czech Republic?
We spent next minutes on the ice and in the locker room. Great atmosphere. It was good we won it at home. Fans were in euphoria. We had Stanley Cup in the locker room after the game. Families and friends could come there. We enjoyed it with them. Then we went to the restaurant, where they were with us. Great party was in Denver on the roofs of fire trucks. There were 400 000 people. It was great. We were in the city hall. They introduced every player with the cup above his head. It was an experience on which I will never forget.
Shjon Podein took off only his helmet and gloves after the game. We went to the restaurant later. He was everywhere in the gear. He broke some record. He was going in the skates everywhere. (laugh)
I had the Cup with me in Pardubice in the summer. We had a celebration with the local team. There was the band Olympic (famous Czech music band – David). At the end I took the cup on the stage. It was whole-day event.
Why did you refuse an invitation to the national team many times?
Mostly it was due our playoffs. Then I had health problems. My knee is bad. I chose relax and did not go there (world championships).
When your healthy problems have started?
It is long time. I had the first knee surgery when I was 17. I had seven surgeries on one knee. When I start to skate, it hurts, but later it is good. I take some pills, it is good.
Paul Kariya and Teemu Selanne came to the team in 2003. Did not you all think you were going to win the Cup? Why did you failed?
When I found out they signed with Colorado, I thought we had the best team on the paper. It does not mean there will be good results if you have good team on the paper. Paul Kariya suffered injury and was out for the long time and Teemu Selänne had alone bad season of his career then.
How it was for veteran players and you when the winning franchise has started to fall down?
It is not a fun when you are used to win and suddenly you do not have results. It is not popular. It is better vice versa – when you have worse results and get better and better. I came to the team when was at the top. I would like to experience one more success at the end of my career.
What is Colorado missing to be back on the winning line?
Hejduk: I think it is all about money. I do not know if the low-salary team could win the Cup. It is very hard. You can play with young players like we. I think the team will be good in the next seasons.
Hejda: If they keep them (young players). If they want them, they will have to get them money. It is very lucky to get cheap and good players. You can spend 10 million on two great players.
Hejduk: Or three and it is one line. Then it is about something else.
Do not you want Dominik Hasek?
Hejduk: I think we have solid goalies. They are great pair.
Hejdu: Giguere is very good for Varlamov. They know which role they have. So, no Hasek. (laugh)
Hejduk: We do not need Hasek. (laugh)
And Jaromir Jagr?
Hejduk: He would help us. He is good player.
Milan, what do you think about the signings of defensemen in Colorado? The team has now many of them.
I think they will trade somebody or the staff would build on older players if they will not be satisfied with young players. Rather I think somebody will go away.
Do you have some information about new contract for Ryan O´Reilly?
Hejduk: I do not know. He probably wants long-time contract after good season.
Hejda: It would big shame and mistake to do not re-sign him. He was a big part of the success.
Milan, you said after the season that you lost confidence of the coach and that you are not going to be re-signed. Why did you think it?
I played last 25 games in the fourth line. I did not have big ice-time. It looked like they would not have interest in me. Finally they had. It is coach´s decision. I was not sure about their interest.
Would you go to other team if they did not re-sign you?
I was thinking about it what would happen if they did not re-sign me. I would wait on offers and from where it would. Not really I wanted… But if Colorado did not want me and the offer would be interest, I would say yes.
Will you be captain in the next season?
Hejduk: I do not know. We will see.
Hejda: I think yes.
Do players select their captain?
Hejduk: No, the staff does it. We started the season without captain and then they chose me.
Hejda: Usually the captaincy is not changing if he does not retire or they trade him. There is no reason to change it.
Hejduk to Hejda: Do not you want to try for a while? (laugh)
Jan, what do you like on the organization most?
The history. It will be here forever. The success what they did when Milan was young. They had best players in the league. There are framed photos in the locker room. It is good for young players. It reminds the history. They look on it and realize where they are. If they will keep main core of the team, I think they team will be back on the position where was.
David Puchovsky, Slovakia, email@example.com
21/08/2012 - 18:00