Jan Hejda is having one of the best seasons of his eight-year NHL career, and his play in the defensive zone has keyed Colorado's strong start this season. He's a little bit unknown, though, on a team full of dynamic scorers and outspoken personalities.
We wanted to fix that and thought this multiplatform format (email, Facebook and Twitter (#HejdaMailbag) would be the perfect way.
We recently asked for your questions for Hejda, and you responded. We selected some of the best of them and had a sit-down with Hejda following practice Monday. Below are your questions and his answers.
EMAIL: “Have you ever hated an opposing player who eventually became a teammate?”
Jim (Metzger, Oregon)
JAN HEJDA: Actually, no, I never hated any players who became a teammate.
EMAIL: “Here is Avs fan from Czech, so I say ‘Ahoj’ :) You are awesome now. My question is: What would you like to say to Avalanche fans from Czech?”
No name or location given
JAN HEJDA: It's always nice to have some people from the Czech Republic around, and it's always nice to talk to them. I'm glad they are Avalanche fans.
JAN HEJDA: I was pretty close with Fedor Tyutin. Also, Jakub Voracek—he is a great guy. I didn't talk to Tyutin for a long time, but Jake Voracek, I like that kid.
JAN HEJDA: My father owned some restaurants, and I worked there sometimes, like part-time, usually in the summer. It was kind of my job. Being around the people, I like that contact with customers. So, I would probably be do something like that, working in the restaurant or owning the restaurant, taking care of the customers.
“Who was your favorite player when you first started playing hockey? Did that change as you grew up?”
Linzie (Loveland, Colorado, USA)
JAN HEJDA: I always watched Ulf Samuelsson, a great defenseman; strong guy. I didn't have any favorite players later. I'm from the Czech Republic so I would like working out with Jaromir Jagr, he is always working so hard. I can't say he is my favorite player because he is a forward, and he's playing a way different game, but, he's a hard worker and that's what I like.
JAN HEJDA: Erik Johnson. He is always sending us funny pictures in group text messages. He always makes some good jokes. He's kind of a funny guy.
JAN HEJDA: Sometimes, definitely around Christmas. I'm from Prague—I was born in downtown Prague—and it's always a beautiful Christmas in the old town. In the summer, I usually spend a month there so I like an afternoon walk through the old part of town. It's a very nice city.
JAN HEJDA: Probably like every player, I would take it to my hometown. I'd go to my old team in Prague and spend some time there. Then share it with the family, like everybody else.
JAN HEJDA: No, I play hockey. I play for fun in the Czech.
JAN HEJDA: I just love this organization. The most important thing to me is we have a good group of guys. I don't have a problem with anybody here. Really, this is the biggest part here: good teammates. I really like Denver, and Colorado is a beautiful state.
JAN HEJDA: Between the periods, yeah—usually after the second period—they are getting wet because we are sweaty. Some guys just hate wet gloves, so during the period somebody will change gloves or put them on the dryer.
JAN HEJDA: I don't even remember [he laughed]. No, I remember that one very well. It was nice. I was playing for the Edmonton Oilers, and it was in Los Angeles. I think it was an overtime goal. It was pretty nice. I played Czech league, Russian league, and the NHL is the best league in the world. It’s definitely the best organized. It's something special to play for and even more special when you score a goal.
JAN HEJDA: Hi, Corky. Nice to hear from you! [She is Hejda’s daughter's horseback riding instructor]. We have a nutrition specialist here so I am trying to follow his instructions, but there isn't one thing I do for every game. My wife is always making food at home. My career has been 16 years—she really knows what to do. The night before a game I usually eat steaks. The lunch before a game she's always making chicken and usually rice or pasta. I think food is very important to staying fit and strong. During the season there is no diet. I am not trying to lose any weight during the season. Everybody eats a lot because we are expending so much energy.
JAN HEJDA: To be honest, I am not really missing Columbus [he played there for four seasons] because I love Denver and Colorado. But, definitely, I'm missing friends. I have a lot of friends back in Columbus, and they were always nice to me.