Friday, 10 July 2009

My Thoughts On Sakic

Ok, so I'm a day late to the tribute party for retiring NHL legend Joe Sakic, but I wanted to be sure that I didn't miss anything when writing this piece. After all, no one wants to offend greatness by omitting achievements, especially when that greatness lasted for two decades in one of the most grueling sports on the planet. Much like Steve Yzerman and Mario Lemieux, Joe Sakic was the face of the Quebec Nordiques-Colorado Avalanche franchise, and he should be remembered as one of the greatest NHL players of all-time.

  • CHL Player of the Year in 1987 with the WHL's Swift Current Broncos.
  • World Junior Champion with Team Canada in 1988.
  • Selected 15th overall in the 1987 NHL Entry Draft by the Quebec Nordiques.
  • Wore #88 during his rookie season in 1988-89 as Alain Cote wore #19.
  • Switched to #19 in 1989-90.
  • Became captain of the Quebec Nordiques in 1992.
  • Won a gold medal at the IIHF World Championships in 1994.
  • 1995-96, as a member of the Avalanche, saw Sakic score his highest single-season point total with 120.
  • Led all playoff scorers in 1995-96 with 18 goals and 34 points.
  • Led the Colorado Avalanche to their first Stanley Cup.
  • Won the 1995-96 Conn Smythe Trophy.
  • Broke Peter Stastny's franchise scoring mark on March 23, 2000 of 1049 points.
  • Led the Colorado Avalanche to the 2000-01 Stanley Cup.
  • Won the 2000-01 Hart Trophy.
  • Won the 2000-01 Lady Byng Trophy.
  • Won the 2000-01 Lester B. Pearson Trophy.
  • Won an Olympic Gold Medal with Canada at the 2002 Winter Olympics.
  • Named Tournament MVP at the 2002 Winter Olympics.
  • Won a gold medal at the 2004 World Cup of Hockey.
  • Was the NHL All-Star Game MVP in 2004 in St. Paul, Minnesota.
  • Finished 14th overall all-time in goals with 625.
  • Finished 11th overall all-time in assists with 1016.
  • Finished 8th overall all-time in points with 1641.
  • Played in NHL All-Star 12 times, but named to 13 NHL All-Star teams.
  • Has the most assists all-time in All-Star Games with 16.
  • Is third all-time in NHL All-Star Game scoring with 22 points.
  • Scored 84 NHL playoff goals, including 18 game-winning goals.
  • Scored 8 overtime goals in the playoffs - the most by any player.
  • Recorded 188 career NHL Playoff points.
Clearly, "Burnaby Joe" was a magical player and a marvelous scorer. However, there have been too many memorable goals to describe, particularly due to his laser-like wrist shot with his amazingly quick release. Here are Joe Sakic's Top Ten moments, according to TSN's SportsCentre:

My thoughts? Hall-of-Fame numbers plus success at every level of hockey he played. A genuinely great guy off the ice with his charitable efforts and community initiatives, he was an incredible leader on the ice as well, most often leading by example rather than by words. Joe Sakic is one of the best all-time, and I wish him well in his life after hockey. He may not have been the best sound byte for reporters, but he always gave them something to talk about with his play.

And isn't that the definition of "greatness" in hockey?

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

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