by PuckStopsHere on 07/09/09 at 03:50 AM ET
I like to write a career perspective when future Hall of Famers retire. Today Joe Sakic is expected to announce his retirement in a press conference in Denver. This retirement is one that I feel close to because I grew up near Joe Sakic and first met him (though I doubt he would remember) when I was a four or five year old child and Sakic was a slightly older child starring in Burnaby Minor Hockey.
Joe Sakic was born on July 7, 1969 in Burnaby, British Columbia. He grew up playing in the Burnaby Minor Hockey Program. He was first noticed by scouts in 1985/86 playing for the Burnaby Selects of the BC Amateur Hockey Association when he scored 156 points in 80 games. This was good enough to get him a three game tryout with the Lethbridge Broncos of the WHL. Lethbridge moved to Swift Current the next season and this is where Sakic became a junior star. In his first full junior season, Sakic scored 133 points in 72 games and was named to the WHL East Second Team All Star, WHL East Rookie of the Year and WHL East Player of the Year. This was good enough to get him selected by the Quebec Nordiques 15th overall in the 1987 entry draft.
It was at this point that an often repeated story at Burnaby North High School was born. One French teacher would tell every class of his that there once was a kid in his class who said he would be a professional hockey player and didn’t need to learn French. This kid was Joe Sakic and he was drafted by Quebec, the most French team in the NHL, thus proving that you never know when you will need to know French.
Sakic returned for a second year in Swift Current. He led the WHL in both goals and points (with 78 and 160 respectively). He made the WHL East First Team All Star and was named the WHL Player or the Year and the Canadian Major Junior Player of the Year.
That was more than good enough to get Sakic and NHL job. His next season was played with the Quebec Nordiques in the NHL. He joined a team that would finish in last place, but had a strong rookie season with 62 points in 70 games. It was the next season where Sakic truly became a star. He led the Nordiques with 102 points and played in his first of 12 NHL All Star Games. Sakic quickly became the captain leader and star of the rising Quebec Nordiques. He scored well over a point per game annually and appeared in the All Star Game. At the end of the 1994/95 season the Nordiques moved to Denver, Colorado and became the Colorado Avalanche. This was a major change in Sakic’s career.
The Avs were ready to compete for the Stanley Cup. They added goaltender Patrick Roy in mid-season and became a top contender. They won the Stanley Cup in 1996 in their first playoff run in Denver and the first serious playoff run of Sakic’s career. Sakic led the playoffs in goals and points (with 18 and 34 respectively) and won the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP. In the4 next season Colorado only made it to the semi-finals, but Sakic still managed to lead the playoffs in assists with 17. That summer (1997) Joe Sakic, a restricted free agent, signed an offer sheet with the New York Rangers. Colorado matched it, but it made Sakic one of the highest paid players in the NHL.
Sakic remained a star in Colorado and had the opportunity to play for Canada in the 1998 Olympics. After a couple years where some time was missed to injury, where Sakic scored better than a point per game but only played about 60 or 70 games, his best NHL season occurred. In 2000/01, Sakic scored 118 points. This was good enough for a Hart Trophy and Pearson Award as MVP and a Lady Byng Trophy as most sportsmanlike player. He tied for the league lead in +/- (with Patrik Elias of the New Jersey Devils) and made the NHL First Team All Star for the first time. In the playoffs, Colorado won their second Stanley Cup and Sakic led the way with 13 goals and 26 points (both of those figures led the NHL). In 2002, he won a gold medal in the Olympics with Team Canada and was named the MVP of the Olympic Tournament. Sakic made the First Team All Star again in 2002 and again in 2004. He remained the Avs captain and star for many years and scored a point per game or better annually. He had another Olympic appearance in 2006. In 2007/08, injuries started to get the better of him. He was limited to 44 games played, due largely to a hernia injury. He still managed 40 points in those games. Last season was even more injury prone. He was limited to only 15 games played (with 12 points). Sakic has decided that is enough and is retiring from a 21 year NHL career.
Joe Sakic retires with 625 career goals. This is good for 14th all time. He has 1016 assists. This places him 11th all time. That puts him eighth all time with 1641 career points. Those are numbers from a very good career.
The Joe Sakic retirement leaves 16 players who are still active that I consider Hall of Famers regardless of anything that happens in the future. Here is the list:
I have added Hasek back into the list since he will be playing next season in the Czech Republic, thus returning to active status. I expect a few more retirements before the summer is through to reduce the size of this list a little bit.
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