Known and loved for his leadership and team first attitude, Sakic was not beat by many on the scoring sheet either.
After attending his first NHL game at the age of four between the Vancouver Canucks and Atlanta Thrashers, the Burnaby, British Colombia native decided he wanted to play hockey.
Joe Sakic’s career could have been defined by accolades. Two time Stanley Cup champion, winner of the Lady Byng, Lester Pearson, Hart Memorial, and Conn Smythe Trophy, and in the hockey hall of fame. But that is never how he would have wanted it. Super Joe was all about super team. He served as the Avalanche captain for seventeen years, and was one of the greatest leaders of all time. Rob Blake, teammate of Sakic’s during their 2001 Stanley Cup run, when speaking about Sakic, said that, “He was a difference maker in all the right ways – preparation-wise, a good team guy, a captain, a leader and clutch. When you needed a big goal or a big game out of someone to change things around, he was it. And then ultimately, a guy who can lead you to a championship. There are guys that have different aspects of that, but only a select few have all those attributes. In my time, Joe Sakic and Steve Yzerman are the two that fit that bill.”
After being drafted 15th overall by the Quebec Nordiques in the 1987 NHL Draft, Sakic recorded 62 points in 70 games in his rookie year. Despite seasons of 102, 109, and 94 points the next three seasons, Sakic’s Nordiques finished last in the Prince of Wales Conference each year. Finally the Nordiques showed potential, and before the 1995-96 season, the club relocated to Denver, Colorado and became the Avalanche. Sakic would record a career high 120 points during that campaign and the Avs would win the Cup that very year, led by Sakic’s 18 goals and 34 points in just 22 playoff games. He deservedly took home the Conn Smythe trophy as playoff MVP along with a Stanley Cup ring.
Sakic’s career is filled with incredible hockey stats. He stands 8th all time with 1,641 points and is one of just 14 players to score 500 goals with one club. He holds the record with the most all star game assists with 16, and is 3rd in points (behind Gretzky and Lemeiux). He holds the NHL record with 8 overtime goals and was 10 times in the top 10 in scoring. Despite all these, the most memorable moment of Sakic’s career came after the the 2001 season. The Avalanche had just finished off their remarkable season with a 3-1 victory over the New Jersey Devils to win the Stanley Cup for the 2nd time in franchise history. Sakic, as the captain would get to raise the Cup first. Not on his watch, Sakic famously decided to hand it over to Ray Bourque for the first raise, the longtime Boston Bruin who had moved to Colorado in search of his first Stanley Cup. What is often not remembered though, is that Sakic led the playoffs in goals (13), and points (26), and had a goal and an assist in game seven to knock out the New Jersey Devils and take Lord Stanley back to Colorado. Although he did not get the deserved appraise by many around the hockey world for his play, Sakic had what he wanted, and that was another Stanley Cup.