NHL Hockey: Burnaby Joe Sakic
Born: July 7, 1969 (age 42), Burnaby, BC, CAN
Height: 5 ft 11 in (1.80 m)
Weight: 195 lb (88 kg; 13 st 13 lb)
Played for: Quebec Nordiques, Colorado Avalanche
National team: Canada
NHL Draft: 15th overall, 1987, Quebec Nordiques
Playing career: 1988–2009
Joe Sakic, perhaps one of the classiest players of his generation was born July 7th, 1969 in Burnaby, British Columbia and would go on to become one of the few of his generation to play 20 years in the NHL all with the same organization.
He was Colorado Avalanche team captain, a 13 time all star, a two-time Stanley Cup winner and is an Olympic Gold Medalist with Team Canada in Salt Lake City in 2002.
After attending a Vancouver Canucks game at the age of four, he decided that he was going to be a hockey player. It didn’t take long before Sakic was a stud in the Minor Hockey ranks – he scored 83 goals and 156 points in only 80 games for Burnaby in high school (Burnaby North Secondary).
Later, he joined the Lethbridge Broncos (later to become the Swift Current Broncos) at the end of their season.
In his first full year in the Western Hockey League, Sakic scored 60 goals and added 73 assists for 133 points on his way to becoming WHL Rookie of the Year. A year after that, Sakic tallied 78 goals and 82 assists on his way to sharing the scoring title with Theoren Fleury, being named WHL Most Valuable Player and Canadian Major Junior Player of the Year.
In the NHL draft, Sakic was selected in the first round – 15th overall by the Quebec Nordiques in 1987 but he elected to stay with Swift Current for one final year before joining the Pros.
He made his NHL debut on October 6th, 1988 and would go on to record 62 points in 70 games that season, narrowly missing out on the Calder Memorial Trophy for Rookie of the Year, largely because an ankle injury sidelined him for 10 games.
In his second season (1989-1990) Sakic scored 102 points, in 1990-1991 he generated 109 points finishing sixth in league scoring and during an injury interrupted 1991-1992 season, Sakic tallied 94 points in just 69 games.
It was the 92-93 season that Sakic took over as the Captain of the Nordiques – a title that would remain with him for the rest of his career.
In the 1992-1993 season, the Nordiques became one of the premier teams in the league – they set a franchise record for wins and points and qualified for the playoffs for the first time in six years.
Sakic recorded 105 points that year (48 goals). The 94-95 season was a down year for the Nordiques and Sakic – the team missed the playoffs and Sakic’s production slipped to a still respectable 92 points.
In 1994-95 Sakic helped his team win a division title during a lockout shortened year.
In 1995, the Nordiques were relocated to Colorado where the newly anointed Avalanche would not only make the playoffs, but win the Stanley Cup in a season that Sakic recorded 120 points and won the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP of the 1996 playoffs – scoring 34 points (18 goals) in Colorado’s historic Cup run.
The 1996-97 season was cut short by injury but the Avalanche would still win the President’s Trophy as the NHL’s best team during the regular season. He would lead his team to the Conference Final that year with eight goals and 17 assists. During the summer of 1997, Sakic signed a three year extension with the Avs only to sustain injury once again the following season and play in 64 games.
The 1998-99 season saw Sakic return to form in a year that he finished fifth in league scoring and would lead his team to the Conference Final once again.
The summer of 1999 saw Sakic named as one of the Top 100 players of all time in the NHL.
In 1999-2000, injury once again plagued the classy forward – he was only able to play 60 games but he still managed to lead his team with 81 points. He became the 56th player in NHL history to reach the 1000 point plateau that year and he also became the 59th player to ever reach the 400 goal mark.
2000 + Beyond
In 2000-2001, Sakic scored a career best 54 goals and recorded 118 points leading the Avalanche to their second Stanley Cup Championship. That year he won the Hart Memorial Trophy, the Lady Byng Memorial Trophy and the Lester B. Pearson Award.
The next few years were much of the same – Sakic continued to lead his team in points and continued to forge his legacy as one of the best leaders to ever lace up the skates.
On February 15, 2007 Sakic scored his 600th goal becoming only the 17th player in NHL history to reach that mark but his team would miss the playoffs that year.
On October 7, 2007, he scored a goal and had an assist against the San Jose Sharks, moving past Phil Esposito into eighth place on the NHL career points list with 1,591.
On March 22, 2008, Sakic recorded his 1000th career assist against the Edmonton Oilers, becoming the 11th player in NHL history to reach this milestone.
Injuries plagued the final few years of Sakic’s career and on July 9th, 2009, Sakic announced his retirement from the game.
The Avalanche retired his jersey, #19, prior to their 2009-2010 opener on October 1, 2009, with a “C” on the banner to represent his lengthy service as team captain (having been the only captain of the Avalanche until he retired); Sakic was also named the inaugural member of the Avalanche Alumni Association.
During his career Sakic was named to the NHL All-Star team 13 times.
He left the game 9th all time in regular season points (1641), 11th place in Regular season assists (1016), 14th place in Regular season goals (625), 35th place in Regular season games played (1363), 1st place in All-Star game assists (16), and 3rd place in All-Star game points (22).
He finished 1st place in Most overtime goals (8), 2nd place in Most goals in single season (18, in 1995–96), 7th place in Playoff points (188), and 7th place in Playoff goals (84).
Internationally, Sakic represented Canada in a World Junior Championship helping them win Gold in 1988, he won Gold in the 2004 World Cup and Silver in the 1996 World Cup.
He also won Gold in the 1994 World Championship and Silver in the 1991 World Championship and was a part of Canada’s Gold Medal Olympic hockey team in 2002.
Joe Sakic remains part of the NHL landscape today as Executive Advisor and Alternate Governor for the Colorado Avalanche where he remains in the front office of the team that he started and ended his career with.