Hejda likes it in Ohio

DEREK VAN DIEST, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 7:52 AM ET

COLUMBUS -- Jan Hejda ended up with the Columbus Blue Jackets this season because they made him an offer he couldn't refuse.

Well, actually, it was an offer similar to the one the Edmonton Oilers were looking to make the six-foot-three, 209-pound defenceman. They were just waiting to clear the logjam on the blue line to make room for the native of Prague, Czech Republic.

"My agent spoke with Kevin Lowe and he said that he had decided to give me a contract, but he had to wait until he made some trades because they had too many defencemen," Hejda said.

"He said that my contract was almost ready and that he needed another two weeks. Then (Blue Jackets GM) Scott Howson called me and told me that he had the exact same contract for me that the Oilers had and that I had to make a decision in two hours.

"So I made the decision in five hours."

Hejda, 29, signed a one-year deal with the Blue Jackets in the summer.

He's been a welcome addition to the their lineup and led the team with a plus-12 rating heading into last night's game against the Oilers.

"I'm in a similar situation here than I was in Edmonton when I played with Jason (Smith)," Hejda said. "I played with Adam Foote and was playing on the top penalty-kill. Things have been going great."

Since Foote's departure at the trade deadline, Hejda has been counted on to play a lot of minutes.

He's currently on the top defensive pairing with Rostislav Klesla. Last night the pair were in charge of trying to keep the Oilers top line in check.

"Adam helped me a lot at the start of the season and now that he's gone, I'm getting more ice time and I'm feeling more comfortable with it," Hejda said.

Hejda has yet to score a goal for the Blue Jackets this season. His only career NHL goal was scored last year with the Oilers when he netted the overtime winner against the Los Angeles Kings.

"I tried to go up and play a little bit more offensive in the middle of the season," Hejda smiled. "But they told me to stay back."

In 67 games this season, prior to last night's contest, Hejda has 12 assists. He's only one of five players on the Blue Jackets roster to go into the game with a plus rating.

Hejda would like to stay with the Blue Jackets next season and it appears the feeling is mutual. If the two sides can't come to an agreement, Hejda would become a free agent this summer.

"That's an important point," he smiled. "Don't forget to write that down.

"I would like to stay here. I don't like moving. My family is here, my daughter's in school. I don't like to move around."


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