Kukla's Korner Hockey
by Paul on 01/18/07 at 03:30 PM ET
Joe Sakic participated in an NHL tele-conference today…
Seventeen years ago this Sunday that was January 21, 1990, Joe made his All-Star debut in Pittsburgh and playing on the line with Kirk Muller assisted on the game-winning goal which was scored shorthanded by Muller. Today, 17 years later, the league will be announcing Joe as captain of the Western Conference All-Star Team, and he’ll join Brendan Shanahan who will captain the Eastern Conference team.
Joe is set to appear in his 12th All-Star Game next week in Dallas. Only 12 players in the history of the League have played in more All-Star Games than those 12. In 2004, Joe was named MVP of the All-Star Game, and he is the fan’s choice to start in an All-Star Game for the fourth time in his career.
Q. What do you remember about your first game, and I just wanted to ask you a couple of questions about Ryan Smyth who will be playing in first game. One is what should Ryan expect, and were you always able to wear No. 19, because Ryan is going to have to wear 93 this year, not 94.
JOE SAKIC: Is he? What do I remember about the first game? It was a long time ago and I don’t remember assisting on Kirk Muller’s goal. I just remember how nervous I was, going into the dressing room and sitting there seeing Mario and Ray Bourque and wondering, the year before I was a junior and what the heck I was doing there.
But it was exciting and obviously I’m surprised this is the first time, I thought he was there a couple of times but he is definitely well deserved. He always comes to play every night, and he’s just—for the World Championships and Olympics, he’s the perfect teammate. So I’m really happy that he’s getting an opportunity for his first time about for him to—what to expect. I’m pretty sure he’s going to be nervous, but I think he’s been in enough world championships and Olympic team competitions, he knows most of the guys, so I think he’s just going to fit in pretty nice. It’s going to be easy for him since he probably knows most of the guys.
Q. Well, it seems strange to see him wearing something that’s not 94 though.
JOE SAKIC: Yeah, those games, you see a lot of guys change numbers. Yeah, who is wearing 94 by the way?
Q. Yanic Perreault.
JOE SAKIC: Oh, okay. I don’t think I wore 19 too often there, different numbers. Guys change all the time.
Q. You said you didn’t recollect too much about your first All-Star Game, was there a first or second where you remember a veteran player saying anything interesting to you or joking around with you, any funny anecdotes about the shy, young kid and one of the veteran players?
JOE SAKIC: Well, I will tell you definitely didn’t say too much in the dressing room. I think it’s the same, it’s a relaxed environment and guys are just having fun and joking around on the ice. I don’t think anybody really takes it too serious. Now that I think about it, my first All-Star Game experience that I remember is not the game, the skills competition, I had to do that shot drill, the target shoot. I tell you, my heart was pounding about 200 beats a minute. I don’t think I hit them all either so it’s just made it worse.
Q. Not to make you feel old, obviously you’re going to be the Captain and one of the senior statesmen on the Western team, but do you have young guys go up to you at these things and ask for advice, or is everyone scared of you?
JOE SAKIC: Nobody really—I don’t think anybody asks for advice really there because it’s such—in the dressing room itself before the game, you’ve got the Skills Competition the day before. It’s really relaxed.
So to be honest, I don’t think anybody really thinks too much about the game in that environment. I think it’s more you just talk and talk about your teams and what you’ve done and you see old friends and you meet new friends. It’s more of a casual, not the game itself talk, more outside the game.
Q. Winning the 2004 game makes you the reining MVP.
JOE SAKIC: They are driving the truck proudly.
Q. That’s what you got?
JOE SAKIC: Yes.
Q. What kind of truck was it?
JOE SAKIC: It was a Durango.
Q. Do you still drive it?
JOE SAKIC: Yeah, we drive it in the summer. It’s up some Canada right now.
Q. How many miles do you think you’ve already put on?
JOE SAKIC: My dad has probably put on more miles than I have. I’m not too sure.
Q. Can you just talk about the All-Star Game and celebrating hockey for the first time in so long?
JOE SAKIC: What’s it been, three years I think, 2004? No, I think obviously we had the lockout and then last year the Olympic break. That was a good break for most of the guys as well.
Yeah, this is a great opportunity and like I said, it’s a relaxed environment. You’re battling with and against these guys all year, and to get a chance for a few days just to relax and catch up with friends that you have around the League and you meet different guys, it’s a lot of fun. Once you get there, once you get in the dressing room, you don’t miss a beat.
Q. Do you see this as part of the revitalization of the league post-blackout?
JOE SAKIC: You know what, I haven’t really thought about that. I mean, it’s an exciting time for the players, I’ll say that. Rehabilitating, I think the league has turned around and come back real strong. I think the rule changes did that, and it’s exciting to watch hockey again.
So I think this is—we’re just getting right back on track, kind of getting back to the norm.
Q. Will watching part of the excitement of an event like this be watching Sidney and Alex together?
JOE SAKIC: Well, I know people are going to be watching those two play together. You know those two are going to be neck and neck for the next 15 years. They are two of the most exciting players in the game and to get an opportunity to watch them on the line it’s going to be a lot of fun. I think both teams will be keeping a close eye on them.
Q. When you started with Quebec they were rebuilding a team that was not very good for a long team but motivate the time you’ve been in Colorado it’s been a powerhouse. Now we’re in an era of parity where there’s 14 points that separate 18 teams and you could probably argue that there are 29 still involved in the playoff race right now. As a player do you like the parity or do you think the league needs dominant teams like you had at one point?
JOE SAKIC: Well, it was fun when we were there, I’ll tell you that.
No, I think the way it is now, with the parity, it’s exciting for the game. We have so many different cities that believe in their team games. I think the way it is right now, games are a lot more exciting and they mean a lot more, especially in the mid part of the season. You know, maybe in the past, you’re fighting for playoff positioning, and really down the stretch, now everybody knows how important the beginning and middle part of the season is. You’re fighting for playoffs, every night on the ice, intensity-wise it’s brought a lot back with this parity.
Q. A lot of players when they played as many as you have and they have played as long as you have sometimes prefer to take the week off and go to the Caribbean somewhere. What keeps you coming back to the All-Star Game?
JOE SAKIC: Well, I think for me, any time you get a chance to go to an All-Star Game, first of all it’s just an honor. It means people think you’re still playing well and that’s a big thing. If you don’t go to the game, if you go to the game, you have a great time. It’s not like we’re going there and wasting a lot of energy. Tomorrow we’re in a relaxed environment. And like I said, you catch up with friends from around the league, and you do, it’s a lot of fun when you’re there.
Q. I was wondering, on Tuesday night is the Skills Competition and the Young Stars game, do you think that night and he vent are going to become a bigger deal, the Young Stars, they are almost like veterans around the league?
JOE SAKIC: Yeah, there’s no question, it’s exciting that they are doing that, the young game. I know they did it the last time. I’m not sure if they did it the year before, or how many years they have done it. It’s exciting because three not that many skaters and so they are on the ice all the time and they just open it up and have a lot of fun.
I believe we saw some great goals the last couple of years in that game, and in the Skills Competition, the fans seem to enjoy it. It’s a great night.
Q. Do you have any sleeper picks in the Skills Competition?
JOE SAKIC: No, I usually sit back and watch the guys go and see the fastest skater. I think players keep getting faster and faster, so it’s going to be a lot of fun watching some of the young guys wheel around out there.
Q. A couple of things, one, do you like getting autographs and sweaters and stuff like that at these things, too? A lot of players are trying to get autographs and stuff like that, and young players, probably don’t have that chance to do it and you probably don’t want to do it when you’re playing against players. And the other thing is, Ryan Smyth is wondering what possibly he can possibly take part in when there’s no deflection drill.
JOE SAKIC: No kidding. Well, they are going to have to make one up for him. He can do the target shoot. Hopefully maybe they can move it out for him in the crease. What was the other question?
When you mention it, it’s a funny thing, when you first start out, you don’t think about things like that, getting autograph jerseys and, but now that I’m a little bit older, you get goes things and you maybe get two or three, give one or two away for a charity and you definitely keep the other one for a memento.
Q. Just wondering the length of the season the last couple of years have started to complain about the three games and four nights in the really compressed schedule. Do you think scrapping the All-Star Game to save up on some of those days would be a solution, or do you see value in keeping this tradition going?
JOE SAKIC: For me I think the All-Star Game is a celebration and you know, it’s an honor for the fans to get a chance to see their favorite players and play in this.
It’s a fun weekend. Over the course of the year, it would definitely be nice to think about every team maybe having some part of—maybe each division having a part or the middle of the season where they have a week off just to rest up and go for the stretch run. Three and four, I don’t mind that, I would rather do that than practice. Playing is a lot easier sometimes than practicing.
Q. Are you bringing any family to Dallas? Some players do that.
JOE SAKIC: Yeah, I’m going to bring my wife and my three kids. My three kids haven’t been to too many I think. My oldest one went to the Vancouver one and the other one here in Colorado. They are all going to come. The whole family is going to come this time.
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