Czech-born Jan Hejda completed a NHL career of nine years and 627 games with the Avalanche in 2015. The defender of the shutdown spent much of his four seasons with Colorado playing with Erik Johnson in the top combination . Hejda, who also played for the Edmonton Oilers and Columbus Blue Jackets, lives in Denver and remains a prominent member of the hockey community as a player agent and board member at the Dawg National Hockey Foundation.
Question: How is family life in the coronavirus pandemic?
Hejda: We usually go to the Czech Republic in the summer. This year I think my wife (Tereza) and my son (Mathias, 11) will fly there later, but I’m staying here (with my daughter Natalie, 19). Traveling is a bit more difficult and I am so busy here because of the situation with the corona virus and my customers.
Q: Can you tell me about your case as a player agent for Edge Sports Management that you represented as a player?
Hejda: I love it. It is definitely more office work than I thought. I was hoping to travel and see the players play more, but it is definitely more office work. At the same time, I’m still on the player’s side, and if they win the game, score a hat-trick, I feel like I’m part of it. In the same way as I played: the team wins.
Q: You and many other former residents of Avs and Colorado, such as Pierre Turgeon, John-Michael Liles, Milan Hejduk, Kyle Quincey, and John Mitchell, are involved in the Dawg Nation Hockey Foundation. Does it make sense that former NHLers are drawn to helping local hockey families in need?
Hejda: Absolutely. But I feel like I’ve been late. I came right after I retired. I told people, for NHL players, they live a little bit in a bubble and have no real idea and don’t understand how few people can help a lot. When I played, I was involved in a number of charities and donated money, but with Dawg Nation I soon found out that $ 2,500 is changing a life. I saw a 140-pound man cry when he received a check for $ 4,000. That’s the message I have for NHL players – a little bit helps a lot.
Q: What is your most memorable moment or period in the NHL?
Hejda: The season in which Patrick Roy coached his first year. Frankly, it was like living in a dream. We were confident and we always thought we could win the next game and the next game, and even if we lost two or three games I would think, “This is the time we lose it”, we would always start winning again. The feeling in the dressing room was just great. Patrick Roy was a good coach and even if we lost three goals in the third period, we still thought we would win. That was fun. That was a season I will never forget. In the playoff (first round, Game 7 overtime loss to Minnesota), I played with a broken thumb and three pins through my thumb and a cast. I feel bad that I couldn’t help anymore.
Question: I hear your son will play with the 11-under triple-A Colorado Thunderbirds for another year next season, but you step aside as a coach. Is this another classic case of a young boy who doesn’t want to listen to his dad despite dad’s resume?
Hejda: (Laughing) I think he needs a different opinion from mine – at least a few years.