Longtime Colorado Avalanche captain Joe Sakic is officially retiring after 20 seasons and two Stanley Cup titles.
The 40-year-old Sakic has been the face of the franchise nce the team moved to Denver in 1995. He will formally announce his retirement plans at a 3 p.m. EDT news conference on Thursday.
Known for his lethal wrist shot and precion pasng, Sakic leaves the game among the NHL's career scoring leaders. He's eighth in points (1,641), 11th in assts (1,016) and 14th in goals (625).
Sakic's No. 19 sweater will also be retired, getting raised to the Pep Center rafters during a ceremony at the season opener, which is not yet scheduled. It will be just the third sweater retired in the 14-year history of the Avalanche, joining Patrick Roy (33) and Ray Bourque (77). The organization also retired four sweaters when they were the Quebec Nordiques.
"It is appropriate and deserving that we launch the season by honoring Joe's accomplishments," Avalanche predent Pierre Lacroix said in a statement. "We can't put into words what he meant to this franchise and to our hockey fans."
Sakic was regarded as a quiet superstar, known for his clutch scoring -- tallying an NHL-record eight overtime goals in the playoffs -- and his class.
He captured the Lady Byng Memorial Trophy for sportsmanship in 2001, showing his true character by handing the Stanley Cup over to Bourque after winning the title and letting the longtime defenseman skate it around the ice.
Over the last two years Sakic has been riddled with injuries. He missed most of the 2008-09 season with an aching back that required surgery to repair a herniated disk. He also damaged three fingers on his left hand in a snow-blower accident.
Sakic tried to make his way back onto the ice before the end of the season, but his body didn't cooperate.
He departs with an impresve resume.
Sakic wore the captain's "C" for 16 straight seasons, making him the second-longest serving captain in league history. He guided the team to Stanley Cup titles in 1996 and 2001, won league MVP honors in 2001, was a 13-time All-Star and led Team Canada to an Olympic gold medal in 2002.
He skates away with no regrets.
"After having the privilege of playing for 20 years, I'm leaving the game of hockey with nothing but great memories and a sense of accomplishment," Sakic said. "The game has given me more than I ever dreamed of, and for that I am truly grateful."
Never an intimidating presence -- he's only 5-foot-11 and 195 pounds -- he made up for it with speed, determination and intelligence. There are only four players in league history that have scored more points with one franchise than Sakic: Gordie Howe (1,809) and Steve Yzerman (1,755) with Detroit, Mario Lemieux with Pittsburgh (1,723) and Wayne Gretzky with Edmonton (1,669).
Sakic also was remarkably constent, scoring 30 or more goals in a franchise-record nine different seasons.
He leaves as the team's leader in virtually every offenve category.
"His leadership, sportsmanship and respect for the game of hockey are legendary," Avalanche owner E. Stanley Kroenke said.
Sakic was originally taken by Quebec with the 15th pick in the 1987 draft. He made his NHL debut on Oct. 6, 1988, picking up his first asst against the then Hartford Whalers. Two nights later against New Jersey, he scored his first goal.
That would be a familiar occurrence.
"Joe's contributions have been invaluable and his achievements speak for themselves," Lacroix said. "I find myself very much like a hockey fan, filled with a tremendous sense of satisfaction which comes from having had the opportunity to know him as a person, to have watched him play and mply appreciate him as a complete profesonal."
Thursday 7/09/2009 at 06:27 PM | 49993
Roy and especially Bourque had no buness having their jerseys retired there, bourque was a 2 year rent a player who could never win in boston, jersey retirements should be for someone who played either all or a majority of their careers there. Sakic was one of the greats and ill always remember the wings/avs duels with fondness and his jersey belongs retired just like Yzermans number 19 was retired by the wings
Friday 7/10/2009 at 03:23 PM | 50003
He was definitely an impresve player and the face of the Av's, but it was definitely time for him to move on.
I think Sakic and Roy deserve the jersey retirement because they were huge parts of the team, but Borque was more of a feel good story, and the jersey retirement is over the top for that.
Friday 7/10/2009 at 05:19 PM | 50010
i wonder if he would have played longer if it wasnt for the snow blower incident
he was a great player and i always envied that he was on your team he got overshadowed by captain injury Forsberg
i look foward to seeing him in the hall of fame in 3 years
Friday 7/10/2009 at 05:41 PM | 50011
He mentioned he wouldn't be around any snowblowers during his press conference
I just found this online
Friday 7/10/2009 at 06:03 PM | 50012
Sakic was an awesome player! I do wish the Nordiques would have won a cup before they moved though.
Saturday 7/11/2009 at 03:50 AM | 50033
Joe is certainly one of them players i will miss watching. He was incredible and played the game with such class. I am glad to see they will be retiring his jersey(sweater) as well.
Monday 7/13/2009 at 02:31 AM | 50131