‘I’m leaving the game of hockey’

By Kristen Meriwether, Epoch Times
July 10, 2009 Updated: October 1, 2015

CAPTAIN AVALANCHE: Joe Sakic in action against the Detroit Red Wings in last season's playoffs. (Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
CAPTAIN AVALANCHE: Joe Sakic in action against the Detroit Red Wings in last season's playoffs. (Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

“Super” Joe Sakic, Colorado Avalanche captain, announced his retirement from the NHL today in Englewood, CO, after a brilliant 20-year career—all with the Colorado Avalanche/Quebec Nordiques franchise.  

In an emotional press conference, Sakic said, “I’m leaving the game of hockey with great memories and a sense of accomplishment.”

In his prepared speech, he got choked up throughout. “I thought this would be a lot easier,” he said.  

He thanked his former teammates, people in the organization, as well as his wife and three kids, who were there to watch him give one final goodbye to the sport he loves.

Pierre Lacroix, team president, called Sakic “the face of our franchise for the past two decades” in a speech that saw him holding back tears. “You make everyone around you so much better.”

Sakic won the Stanley Cup in 1996 and was also awarded the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP.

Another of Sakic’s greatest years was 2001. Sakic and the Avalanche would reclaim the Stanley Cup. The Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada native was awarded the Hart Trophy (league MVP), Lady Byng Trophy (sportsmanship), and the Lester B. Pearson Award (players’ MVP).

Sakic made 13 All-Star appearances including being named All-Star MVP in 2004.

Sakic has not only had success in the NHL, but also on the world stage.
Sakic is one of only 22 members of the “Triple Gold Club.”  He has won a World Championship gold medal (1994), a Stanley Cup (1996, 2001), and an Olympic gold medal (2002).  His World Championship and Olympic medals came as a member of Team Canada.

Sakic leaves the NHL in eighth place for career points with 1,641.  He is 14th in career goals with 625 and 11th all-time in career assists with 1016.  He played 1,378 games in his career.

The “C” on his sweater not only stood for captain for 16 seasons, but it also stood for class.

Former teammate Adam Foote recalled one of Sakic’s finest moments during the 2001 Stanley Cup finals. After clinching Game 7, Sakic received the Cup as captain, but instead of raising it high over his head, he immediately passed it on to teammate Ray Bourque who had waited 22 seasons to win a Stanley Cup.

With moments like that, it is almost certain Joe Sakic will be a first ballot candidate for the NHL Hall of Fame in three years, when he is eligible.   

Opening night of the 2009–10 Colorado Avalanche season will be Joe Sakic night and his No. 19 jersey will be retired.